Heart rate sensor

New Apple patent would use heart rate data to identify Apple Watch owner

Currently, you can protect your Apple Watch with a passcode or set it to automatically unlock itself whenever you unlock your iPhone. But if a newly published patent application from the Cupertino firm is anything to go by, the wearable device may soon be able to seamlessly identify the owner with its built-in heart rate sensor.

As published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the invention titled “User identification system based on plethysmography” proposes using a pulse oximeter to intelligently identify biometric characteristics of a user’s vasculature.

Apple Watch reportedly has onboard hardware for measuring blood oxygen saturation

Currently, your Apple Watch learns about calories you burn by applying some math magic to your heart rate readings and values obtained from its sensors.

The method provides reasonably accurate estimates of resting/active calories. However, even more precise calorie-burning readings could come soon if Apple decides to enable the hardware feature which can reportedly measure oxygen levels in your blood.

As an iFixit teardown has identified, the Apple Watch heart rate sensor has onboard hardware for detecting blood oxygen saturation.

Users report less consistent heart rate readings after updating to Watch OS 1.0.1

In addition to fixing performance issues and a number of problems related to the accuracy of fitness tracking, the first software update for the Apple Watch seem to have introduced an unintended bug.

The affected owners have flocked to Apple Support Communities and MacRumors’ forums to report that the device is now capturing their heart rate readings less frequently than before after updating to Watch OS 1.0.1.

Apple says the device’s heart rate sensor should capture heart rates every ten minutes throughout the day — even more frequently during workouts — but there are now noticeably larger gaps of time between data, some as long as an hour or more.