HolidayBuyer's Guide

An Apple wearable heart reader may be its next big thing

A patent application shows a ring-shaped device that can test your heart's rhythm and may hint at a future product.

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The device could be worn either on the wrist, or another part of the body.

Photo by Apple/US Patent and Trademark Office

Apple is increasingly concerned about your health.

The company, after all, believes the Apple Watch is already buzzing you out of your lazy stupor. CEO Tim Cook says that "sitting is the new cancer" and that his products can be a solution.

Apple may be heading even further into the medical field. A patent application published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows that Apple wants to lock down ownership on a new wearable health device that could be fashioned into different accessories. It could, for example, be a watch, a ring, a brooch or something else entirely. The application was uncovered by Patently Apple.

The wearable, capable of performing an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the heart's rhythm, could allow Apple to tap into the $148 billion US market for medical devices. It would serve as a logical progression from the Apple Watch, a more mainstream product that has kick-started the idea of wearing bits of connected technology.

The burgeoning wearables market is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2019, according to CCS Insight. While other companies such as Samsung, LG and Sony came out with smartwatches before Apple, the Apple Watch leads the pack. And although the iPhone remains the primary driver of revenue, Apple is eager to branch out with new products.

While an ECG-capable ring or brooch would be a niche item, it would be critical for cardiology tests. Usually, ECG readings differ depending on the distance of the device from the heart, but the device that Apple wants to patent describes a calibration process that means it can calculate accurate readings no matter where the device is on the body.

Sounds great, right? Just don't hold your breath for one to show up soon. Big tech companies file many patent applications, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're currently working on that particular concept or product, or that it will ever see the light of day.

Still, Apple has an eye on your well-being.

"If you think about some of society's biggest problems and challenges, one of the ones that we are really focused on is health," Cook said at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam in May.

It doesn't hurt that the issue could drive sales of its products too.

Apple declined to comment.

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