Body temperature sensing could also come to AirPods and Apple Watch bands

Apple is researching an AirPods body temperature sensor and one that could be integrated into fabric-based bands for the Apple Watch.

Apple's patent drawing illustrating an AirPod with a body temperature sensor
Image: Apple / USPTO
  • What’s happening? Apple has filed a patent application for a body temperature sensor that could be used in future AirPods and fabric-based watch bands.
  • Why care? Looks like the next Apple Watch won’t be the only device to get this sensor. We’ve been expecting health-tracking AirPods and the timing of this patent suggests the next AirPods might have some health functions after all.
  • What to do? Start saving money. Apple will unveil the Apple Watch Series 8 family on September 7 and the next AirPods Pro might be announced alongside new phones and watches.

Will AirPods get a temperature sensor?

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 25 published a new Apple patent application, titled “Packaging technologies for temperature sensing in health care products.” It outlines putting a body temperature sensor array inside next-generation AirPods, Apple Watch bands and so on.

Here’s a relevant excerpt from the filing:

In some embodiments the temperature sensor packages are configured for touch sensing, and include an electrically conductive sensor pattern such as a thermocouple or resistance temperature detector pattern. In some embodiments, the temperature sensor packages are configured for non-contact sensing an include an embedded transducer.

A package would include a routing layer, a cavity in the bottom side of the routing layer, a transducer mounted within the cavity and a chip mounted on the top side of the routing layer. That chip should be in an electrical connection with the transducer for the solution to work. Read: How to fix AirPods not connecting to Apple Watch

And fabric-based Apple Watch bands, too!

Apple explains that its sensor package could be rigid or flexible.

When it comes to the latter, the patent filing explores incorporating a temperature-sensing array within a fabric-based Apple Watch band. The patent doesn’t make it clear whether Apple’s existing bands could host this sensor or not.

Conventional wisdom tells us that you’ll need a future fabric-based Apple Watch band to gain this functionality. At any rate, equipping an Apple Watch band with a temperature sensor could theoretically bring body temperature sensing to the Apple Watch Series 7 and older models that lack this sensor.

New Apple phones, watches and earbuds coming soon

You won’t need to wait for much longer to find out whether sensing body temperature is part of the features set of the next AirPods. Apple’s “Far out” media event to unveil the iPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8 and, possibly, new AirPods is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 7, at 10am PT / 1pm ET.

The rumor mill has been telling us that a new temperature sensor will make its debut in the Apple Watch Series 8 models. It’s a pretty safe bet to speculate that Apple might add this sensor to other wearable devices and accessories, including future fabric-based bands for the Apple Watch.

The timing of this patent (a few days before Apple reveals its cards) is a strong indication that upcoming products will most likely incorporate this technology.

This particular patent comes hot on the heels of another one for a light-folding infrared projector which basically describes the iPhone 14’s pill and hole-punch design of the notch.