July 16, 2020

The Apple Watch may be enabled to track wind resistance for cyclists

The Apple Watch may be enabled to track wind resistance for cyclists

The Apple Watch already has several features for cyclists, and more may be coming. The tech giant has been granted a patent (number 10,699,594) for “calculating an estimate of wind resistance experienced by a cyclist.

A cyclist may wish to receive a measurement or estimate of their power output and/or calories burned while they ride. One way by which power output can be measured is the installation of a power meter onto a bicycle. However, Apple notes that such meters require installation and may be expensive. 

The Apple Watch may be enabled to track wind resistance for cyclists

Another method for estimating power output is to measure the cyclist’s heart rate and generate an estimate of power output based on the heart rate. Again, Apple notes that, while inexpensive, heart rate measurements and estimation of cyclist power output based on heart rate can require significant power to operate the sensor.

 Another approach is to estimate power output based on distance traveled and/or speed at which that distance is traveled. However, estimation based on these quantities can be inaccurate, according to Apple. For example, calculating an estimate of power output based on distance traveled and/or speed at which that distance is traveled will not account for dynamically experienced resistance such as that provided by wind, or by changes in elevation during the ride. 

When riding a bicycle, three main factors contribute to total energy expenditure: rolling resistance, contributed by friction of the bicycle tires against the ground; grade, contributed by the force of gravity pulling against the mass of the cyclist and bicycle; and wind resistance or drag, contributed by the force of air drag against the cyclist and bicycle moving through the atmosphere. When riding a bicycle at a constant speed, the total of these three main factors represents the major power output of the cyclist. Apple wants its smartwatch to be able to track such factors.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Improved techniques and systems are disclosed for determining the components of resistance experienced by a wearer of a wearable device engaged in an activity such as bicycling or running. By monitoring data using the wearable device, improved estimates can be derived for various factors contributing to the resistance experienced by the user in the course of the activity. Using these improved estimates, data sampling rates may be reduced for some or all of the monitored data.”

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