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Apple investigating automatic blood pressure monitoring technology

A new patent application suggests that Apple may be looking into "intelligent blood pressure monitoring" with an alert triggered by parameters set by the user —or by data collected by wearable sensors such as those found on the Apple Watch.

Patent application number 15/094,978, made public on Oct. 12 and discovered by AppleInsider, details the technology. The application addresses not only the measurement triggers, but also examination of the readings in conjunction with other sources of data, like a calendar suggesting that a transient happened during a meeting, or a lower than average reading was while the user was sleeping.

Examples that Apple presented of user-set parameters include time, after taking medication, psychological or physical state as suggested by sensors, and other context triggers like not taking it while driving.

Benefits touted of the implementation include more consistent environmental factors to minimize variables that may affect the reading, as well as providing context to medical professionals who examine the data either provided by the user manually, or transmitted automatically.

As with all patent applications, the discussion of the technology is wide-reaching. It spans notifications between a wearable device straight to the user, a signal sent across any sort of networking technology like wi-fi or Bluetooth, and also covers constantly worn blood pressure cuffs actuating immediately such as those worn by patients in a health care facility of some sort.

A possible user interface element is presented in the application, with a graph of pressures and context being shown to the user.

The patent does not address HIPPA concerns about secure storage and transmission of data to providers —but that specific of implementation may be too fine a detail for a patent application.

Apple technologies have been used for hypertension studies since the dawn of HealthKit. An early program in Louisiana used the Apple Watch and wireless blood pressure cuffs to increase the frequency of patient monitoring.

Rumors circulated shortly after the launch of the Apple Watch, that the company was investigating smart sensor bands, with blood oxygen, respiratory rate, and blood pressure all being looked at for integration.