Since its acquisition of Beddit in 2017, Apple has been exploring ways to leverage smart mattress technology, combined with temperature sensors, to monitor various aspects of health, including menstrual cycles.

Initially focused on enhancing sleep tracking, Apple has continued its research to incorporate sensors into bedding, making them less intrusive for users. One of the recently granted patents is titled “Flexible temperature sensing devices for body temperature sensing.”

This patent revolves around the use of sensors to monitor a person’s body temperature while they sleep. Apple believes that this approach could offer advantages over existing health tracking methods. According to the patent, “Physiological sensors, such as temperature measurement devices, heart monitoring devices, or blood oxygen level sensors,” are being integrated into various wearables and objects such as smartwatches, clothing, and even furniture.

Apple acknowledges that people typically measure their temperature infrequently, mostly when they suspect illness or for specific purposes like family planning. To address this, Apple proposes incorporating temperature measurement devices into objects like smartwatches, clothing, and bedding. The goal is to create sensors that are thinner, more flexible, and more durable to minimize user impact while providing reliable data.

Apple’s idea involves placing a series of sensors on top of a mattress, likely beneath the bedsheet. These sensors would continuously monitor a person’s temperature over time.

A second patent, also recently granted, expands on this concept and is titled “In-bed temperature array for menstrual cycle tracking.” While the focus remains on temperature tracking, this patent specifies when and how it is done. Continuous temperature tracking establishes a baseline for menstrual cycle detection.

The patent explains, “After determining the temperature of the user for each use period in the set of two or more use periods, at least one change in the temperature of the user between different use periods can be identified. An ovulation day of the user based on the at least one change in the temperature of the user can be estimated.”

However, this process requires precision as it involves identifying when “the temperature of the user is at least 0.1 degrees Celsius higher” than in at least two other recorded instances. It also requires tracking temperature variations throughout the night, including determining when “the temperature of the user is at least 0.2 degrees Celsius higher than a maximum” previously recorded.

Monitoring menstrual cycles is a crucial aspect of women’s health, and it has historically received inadequate attention in research. Apple’s ongoing interest in this field, highlighted by this patent, underscores the company’s commitment to advancing women’s health tracking. This patent lists five inventors, including Zijing Zeng and Joseph M. Schmitt, both of whom have previous experience in developing temperature-measuring sensors for iPhones.

Apple continues to explore innovative ways to leverage its technology for health and wellness applications, seeking to provide users with valuable insights into their overall well-being.

By Impact Lab