FITBIT is a company that manufactures wireless-enabled wearable devices that measures fitness related data, such as the number of steps a user’s has walked, hours slept, etc. My main reason for writing this blog was due to my interest in both patents and fitness related technology. Due to this, I was interested to see the claims and patent applications related to FITBIT and their wearable technology.
One of FITBIT’s main family of patents include recently allowed patent application 13/767,836 that is related to a provisional patent application filed on September 30, 2010 entitled “PORTABLE MONITORING DEVICES AND METHODS OF OPERATING THE SAME.” A representative claim of the 13/767,836 patent is reproduced below.
1. An activity monitoring system comprising:
a plurality of fixtures, wherein each fixture includes a physical size and shape that is adapted to couple to an associated location on the body of the user;
a portable monitoring device adapted to separately and physically engage each fixture of the plurality of fixtures, the portable monitoring device including:
a housing to separately and physically engage each fixture;
an activity sensor, disposed in the housing, to detect activity of the user and, in response thereto, to generate data which is representative of the activity of the user; and
processing circuitry, disposed in the housing and coupled to the activity sensor, to calculate one or more activity-related quantities of the user using the data which is representative of the activity of the user, wherein the processing circuitry:
automatically determines a particular fixture of the plurality of fixtures is physically engaging the portable monitoring device, and
calculates at least one activity-related quantity of the user which is associated with the particular fixture.
After briefly reviewing the independent claim of this patent application, it is clear that this is a pretty broad claim. However, the claim language does include language that may enable fairly easy design arounds.
The following is my interpretation of each of the main claim limitations with respect to the filed application.
– a plurality of fixtures, wherein each fixture includes a physical size and shape that is adapted to couple to an associated location on the body of the user.
o To me this limitation appears to essentially mean a clip. You need at least 2 (a plurality) of projections/”fixtures” that are used to a location associated with a user’s body.
o Two easy design arounds for this claim appear to be don’t include a plurality of fixtures. A smart watch, phone, or any other device that doesn’t include a clip will not infringe this claim. It also appears that NIKE+ technology that is built into shoes will not infringe on these claims, because there are no “plurality of fixtures.”
–a housing to separately and physically engage each fixture
o There is a housing that must be able to engage “each” fixture.
o If the housing does not engage a fixture, this claim will not be infringed. This may come in the situation where the wearable technology is embedded in an article of clothing, phone, or other block based electronic item.
–an activity sensor, disposed in the housing, to detect activity of the user and, in response thereto, to generate data which is representative of the activity of the user
o The activity sensor here must be “disposed within the housing.” Therefore, if there is an external activity sensor that is remote from the housing itself, then the claim will not be infringed.
o For example, if the housing is used as an electronic device (i.e. a smart phone in someones pocket while working out), but an additional sensor is needed, such as a wristband communicating data via Bluetooth. Then this claim will not be infringed.
Even with all the above limitations, this independent claim for FITBIT appears to be very broad and covers most “clipping” based solitary, electronic devices that measure activity related data.