Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly expressed his interest in Nike's Fuelband fitness tracker, but the Cupertino, Calif.-based company could be experimenting with a different approach for its own health-focused device. A newly published Apple patent application describes a set of earbuds that can measure your heart rate, how many steps you've taken, your perspiration and other types of physical data.
Apple describes a few different ways in which this technology could be implemented. In one instance sensors are packed into a pair of earbuds, while another method entails an external component that could attach to a set of earbuds to headphones you already own. As is the case with most existing fitness trackers, Apple's solution would pair with your smartphone. This type of device, Apple says, will eliminate the need to bring an extra item such a wristband when working out.
What makes Apple's health-oriented earbuds particularly intriguing is the potential use of head gestures. As the patent notes, wearers could set a predetermined task to a specific head movement. We imagine this could entail tilting your head to the right to skip to the next song in your playlist, but Apple's application doesn't cite specific use cases.
The patent mentions a variety of sensors common in most fitness trackers and smartphones, including an accelerometer or multiple accelerometers, a pedometer, a GPS tracker and a biometric detector.
Fitness tracker headphones are a budding area of interest for those jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon. At this year's CES, Intel showcased its smart earbud prototype capable of tracking your workout and adjusting music based on your pace. LG also unveiled a pair of fitness-focused in-ear headphones alongside its Lifeband Touch tracker last month.