Having made its mark on personal computers, portable music player and smartphones, US tech giant Apple is turning its attention to the growing yoga market.

Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent & Trademark Office for a yoga calorie counting tool that will provide users with a more accurate estimate of the number of calories burned during a yoga workout.

Apple has yet to release details. However, this technology would suit the company’s wearable Apple Watch devices.

The patent mentions a heart rate sensing module, which isn’t uncommon in current fitness trackers. Apple will also use a temperature sensor to measure the temperature of the surrounding air. Apple also plans to collect motion data in order to detect the yoga position that a user is performing.

Combined, these features will allow the Apple device to provide users with a more accurate estimate of calories burned.

Why it matters:

Moving into this market will allow Apple to connect with a growing number of yoga participants.

The exercise discipline, which focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing techniques, has been growing in popularity over the last decade.

Some 37 million people in the United States participated in some form of yoga in 2015, up from 20 million three years earlier. The market will grow to 55 million participants by 2020 according to data quoted by Statista.

Likewise, in 2015 total revenue in the industry amounted to $9 billion in the US, one of Apple’s biggest markets alongside China.

A renewed interest in health and fitness has helped to create a $6.9 billion wearable technology market. Fitness trackers, which track and monitor physical activity and wellbeing, make up half of all sales in the wearables market according to market analyst CCS Insight.

Apple currently competes with Xiaomi and Fitbit in the wearables market. Xiaomi leads with a market share of 13.4% compared to Apple’s 13% and Fitbit’s 12.9%.

Offering the market a better way to track energy expenditure by taking into account the type of yoga pose that the user is performing could give the Apple Watch an edge over their rivals in the fitness tracking market.

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The patent:

Apple has yet to comment or provide further details, but the filed patent application reads:

“A method and a system for determining an energy expenditure of a user while practicing yoga are described. A heart rate sensing module can measure the user’s heart rate. A temperature sensing module can measure ambient temperature. A motion sensing module can collect user’s motion data. In some embodiments, a hot yoga session can be detected based on measured ambient temperature. […] A yoga type can be detected based on the motion data. In some embodiments, an energy expenditure model can be applied based on the determined yoga type.”

Background:

Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that wearable tech had its best ever quarter in Q4 2017. Revenue and sales of the Apple Watch grew by over 50% over the Christmas period.

According to Apple’s Q4 2017 financial results, the ‘other’ category, which also includes the Apple Watch, Beats headphones, Apple TV and the iPod, grew by almost 70% year on year.

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