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.
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.
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.
There’s no two ways about it: even under the most ideal of conditions, the Apple Watch may not be able to get a reliable heart rate reading every time for everybody. Now, our recent overview of the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor provided a good starting point for enthusiasts wishing to learn more about the feature. It gives you a better idea of the intricacies and benefits of the custom-designed hardware feature marketed primarily to fitness aficionados.
But the truth is, it’s been designed for everyone, really. It’s something every Watch customer will be using without even being aware of it, simply by wearing the device (for those wondering, the average human heart rate is about seventy-two beats per minute).
On the back of the Watch is a specially designed sensor protected by a ceramic cover with sapphire lenses, with infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes detecting the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment.
Knowing your heart rate helps the Watch determine your intensity level during workout while improving the accuracy of your active calorie burn measurements. Therefore, knowing the sensor’s limitations and pitfalls is important.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help the Watch get the most consistent and best heart rate readings possible. Here are five sound tips regarding using this feature optimally and with minimal disruption.
A support document Apple published earlier this month contains a number of interesting tidbits and nice-to-knows regarding the Watch’s built-in heart rate monitor. We thought it’d be useful to give you a quick summation of the technologies the wrist-worn device uses to provide accurate readings of your heart rate.
The document also confirms that the Watch can connect wirelessly to external heart rate monitors such as Bluetooth chest straps for even more precise readouts.
All in all, Apple’s done a fine job outlining in Layman’s terms the tech and the sensors that measure a user’s heart rate, a feature many reviewers have described as seamless. In Apple’s parlance, it just works and here’s exactly how it works.