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The Bulletin

Apple patent spies on your every move

Posting in Design

Surveillance is often part of our daily lives, but Apple's new patent application goes a step further.

First brought to light by Tom's Hardware, patent application 8,374,825, filed by Apple through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), documents a "Personal items network, and associated methods."

In other words, a network of sensors that can track everything within a location, including objects and people. By linking objects through movement-monitoring electronics, everything from your wallet, keys and smartphone could be connected.

Designed to connect a minimum of two personal objects to a computerized system, if you lost your keys, for example, the network could tell you its location.

The patent application reads:

"The invention relates to sensing systems monitoring applications in sports, shipping, training, medicine, fitness, wellness and industrial production. The invention specifically relates to sensing and reporting events associated with movement, environmental factors such as temperature, health functions, fitness effects, and changing conditions."

In the same way that GPS can track and determine the location of a missing car, for example, Apple's patent explains that the network could continuously track and quantify the location of an object. The movement monitoring devices (MMDs) are also "able to attach to any item, as well as to people," and can record "temperature, humidity, chemicals, heart rate, pulse, pressure, stress, weight, environmental factors, and hazardous conditions."

The patent application says that the MMD could come in the form of adhesive strips, complete with a processor, detector, communications port and potentially an accelerometer embedded within silicon. In order to gather quantitative data about movement -- whether you are tracking a parcel or documenting how the delivery driver is handling your package -- the MMD could could come in the form of a 'smart label' which could record any drops or damage to an item, as well as give you a timestamp of when the incident occurred, to be transmitted wirelessly to the recipient.

— By on February 13, 2013, 7:23 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure