How Apple’s smart music tech could push you harder in workouts


Apple's new smart music patent application would fit perfectly within a fitness-tracking device like the iWatch.

If you’re a runner or a gym user, chances are that at some point you’ve put together a workout playlist of some sort, full of the kind of Rocky-esque power ballads you want entering your ears and coursing through your veins as you strive toward physical perfection.

According to a patent application published Thursday, Apple could be looking to take a lot of the pain out of that kind of gain. The application in question deals with a handheld or wearable device capable of controlling the tempo of music so as to affect the mood and behavior of users during exercise.

It may be possible, for instance, to sync the speed and beat of your music to the steps of your running, or for gradual increases or decreases in speed to provoke similar shifts in your playlist.

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“It is well documented that music can affect the mood and behavior of people,” Apple writes in its application. “During exercise in particular, music can be used to motivate, speed and drive the intensity of the workout. For example, it is generally believed that if the music is invigorating and inspiring people will be more motivated to work out. Because of this, most gyms play music with an upbeat tempo to keep people motivated during their work out.”

While the accompanying pictures show an iPod being used as the music player in question, this technology would fit perfectly as part of Apple’s much-anticipated iWatch — particularly since the application goes on to describe the body metrics that could be analyzed to provoke certain music selections — including body motion, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.

Although we don’t yet know which biometrics the iWatch will be able to read, previous patent applications have referred to smart pedometers, while rumors talk about sweat and heart rate analysis.

While Apple's patent application talks about the iPod, it describes technology that would seem to make more sense with the iWatch.
While Apple’s patent application talks about the iPod, it describes technology that would seem to make more sense with the iWatch.

The software involved in this tech would also allow Apple to intelligently analyze your music collection, perhaps filtering songs according to tempo or mood. Using algorithms like the ones acquired in the recent BookLamp acquisition, it should even theoretically be possible for Apple to delve into lyrical content, to determine whether that songs you’ve just downloaded from iTunes talks about getting stronger, or relaxing for the summer.

Apple’s Music Synchronization Arrangement patent application was filed in April this year, although its claims have been explored as far back as 2004.

Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

  • Amine

    Bring it already and take all my money

  • JoeNorth5

    Here you go again thinking you understand patents. This a 2004 patent. Yes Apple is updating their patent claims, but it’s still the same old 2004 patent that has no connection to an iWatch whatsoever. This is your invention, not Apple’s. How embarrassing it is to see Cult of Mac trusting you to report on new patents.

    • Luke Dormehl

      I think you’re a little confused here. Yes, Apple updates existing patents, and most patents cite earlier patents. I’m pointing out that this technology could fit very well within Apple’s much-anticipated iWatch. I genuinely don’t understand why you feel the need to be so bizarrely confrontational. I hope that JoeNorths 1-4 are friendlier.

      • JoeNorth5

        I’m not confused at all. Apple’s concept eventually went into work with Nike + iPod. Apple will continue to work with Nike whether it be a watch or whatever. Apple’s 2004 patent is long gone but you’re trying to mold into something modern. You just didn’t see that this patent went back to 2004 and that it’s completely outdated. You thought it was a new patent idea which is what makes your report foolish.