In addition to presenting informationon to the user, “Apple Glass” can record physiological signs such as temperature or heart rate, and modify what it displays according to what it may feel about the user.
Apple has filed many previous patents for head displays, dating back at least eight years, and its latest application is just as serious and written in as dark a tone as any. But regardless of the practical uses of its proposal, Apple has in fact created the possibility of sensitive sunglasses at risk.
As Douglas Adams imagines in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, these are glasses that can register when you’re alarmed by something you’re seeing. And will immediately turn completely black so that you cannot see it anymore.
There isn’t a single mention of it in “Head-mounted display with facial interface to detect physiological conditions,” a patent application disclosed this week. Yet this must have occurred to the three inventors listed, because the whole proposition is to first record the physiological state of a wearer, and then act on this informationon by changing what is displayed on the screen. .
At over 10,000 words, the patent application is long on precise details on the measurement of this physiological state, but quite short on exactly what it means. It is then even shorter on the suggested uses of the informationon it collects.
“A head-mounted display includes a display unit and a face interface,” he begins, before briefly explaining that the display unit presents graphical informationon to the wearer of “Apple Glass” or ‘another similar device.
The facial interface may be removably coupled to the display unit and engages a face engagement region of a user’s face, the display unit being supported on the face. of the user, ”he continues. “The facial interface includes a physiological sensor for detecting a physiological condition of the user in the region of facial engagement.”
In other words, while you are looking at everything the “Apple Glass” shows, the glasses themselves might be staring at you and measuring your reactions. There are many ways your body can transmit your condition, and they may be too important for a single pair of glasses to measure. The app therefore recognizes that part of this can be detected by a second connected device, i.e. an iPhone.
“The physiological sensor (s) can be configured to sense physiological conditions in the region of facial engagement,” he continues, “which can include strength, temperature, humidity, displacement, capacity, brain activity (eg, EEG as mentioned above), muscle activity (eg, via force sensors and / or electromyography (EMG)) and / or heart rate. ”
Detail of the patent showing a possible arrangement of sensors on a head mounted device such as “Apple Glass”
Apple struggles to be clear that this doesn’t mean all of these things will be measured, but it’s even harder to say they could be and want the patent. Beyond the technical and legal wording, however, there are references to what this system might actually be useful for.
“[It] can be used in different ways, “he says,” eg, for physiological identification, assessment of user suitability, assessment and / or guidance of placement, variation of graphic content and simply outputting physiological informationon for other purposes, such as individual health monitoring, multi-person health studies, or uses yet to be determined. ”
Thus, beyond simple health monitoring, glasses could identify the wearer. For less interesting uses, it might also be how “Apple Glass” tells you you haven’t uploaded them.
Somewhere in between these two uses, it’s possible that such a system could fit into Apple’s many health monitoring projects. “Variable geographic content,” however, seems less related to your stress level and more to the country you are in.
However, if you have a dangerously high heart rate, it could be the way the glasses show you the direction to the nearest hospital. Or if you are actually in a desert, they might show you calming footage of cooler climates. But it really is “Apple Glass” susceptible to peril in everything but the name.
The three inventors credited on this Apple patent application include Daniel M. Strongwater, whose previous work includes headphone designs that fit well enough to allow reliable fitness tracking.