Apple envisions wireless wristbands for hospital stays

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The tech could be used for a disposable wristband that stores and transmits health information to your doctor’s smartphone.

Apple patent for an autonomous battery-free microwave frequency communication device.

The US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday published 58 newly granted Apple patents, but one that envisions communication between a device like the iPhone or iPad and a wireless disposable wristband has received some attention.

The patent, which was earlier reported on by Patently Apple, covers technology for an “autonomous battery-free microwave frequency communication device” that could be embedded on physical objects such as a wristband, flyer, or card.

In the patent, Apple describes how a smartphone could wirelessly transmit data to a disposable hospital wristband that incorporates the microwave frequency device and also contains sensors or stored information, such as medical records or procedures performed on a patient during hospitalization. The smartphone would be able to both read information from the wristband and write information to the wristband. The patent suggest the wristband could have sensors that measure certain health functions, such as body temperature and pulse.

Not surprisingly, the patent has gotten significant attention. At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced its Health app, a dashboard for all of your health and fitness data. It’s believed the rumored Apple iWatch could also come with sensors that are capable of evaluating health and fitness information, giving software developers the opportunity to collect and use that information in their apps.

Apple’s patent didn’t solely focus on health-related functions for an embedded microwave frequency device. Apple’s patent described how information could be transmitted from a mobile device to disposable credit or loyalty cards or even ad flyers. The patent says the technology also opens up the possibility of “one card in the wallet” for multiple purposes like identification, payment, and promotions.

It’s important to note that Apple — like other major brands — files and is granted patents all the time, and in many cases those technologies never make their way to store shelves. It’s entirely possible the same will be true with this latest patent.


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