By Don Reisinger

Nike’s FuelBand also features pedometer functionality.

(Credit: Roger Cheng/CNET)

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a new patent application from Apple focused on user health.

Dubbed Wrist Pedometer Step Detection, the technology essentially allows for a wearable product, worn on the user’s wrist, to track how many steps they’ve taken. AppleInsider earlier reported on the patent.

Although pedometers are nothing new, Apple’s technology is actually somewhat sophisticated. The technology analyzes “peak-to-peak threshold” to determine when a person takes a step. Based on the time elapsed between those thresholds, it can infer when another step was taken. The technology can also automatically determiner whether the pedometer is being worn on the wrist.

Rumors have been swirling, suggesting Apple is at work on health-related products and could be announcing new devices and software this year. As one might expect, given Apple’s history, the company hasn’t shared any plans on that. Still, this latest patent adds a bit more credence to those rumors and suggests Apple might soon jump into the health fray.

If and when that happens, Apple will be met with serious competition. Several companies, including Nike with its FuelBand, can track steps taken with a wrist-worn device.

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