From an FDA meeting to Tim Cook's discussions of wearables, Apple appears to be increasingly interested in fitness and health — and a new patent suggests that interest has been growing steadily for years. As spotted by Apple Insider, Apple was granted a patent today for headphones that can detect head gestures and monitor their wearers' activity, temperature, perspiration, and heart rate. An application for the patent was initially filed back in 2007, however, so Apple likely had the iPod — and not any in-development wearable — in mind as their partner.

Head gestures could control a connected device

The patent suggests that the headphones would be worn during sports and exercise, letting their sensors monitor a wearer's performance. But while headphones are a natural accessory for a workout, they're not something you'd wear all day, making the potential device far more limited than the type of always-on fitness and health trackers that people are interested in today. Nonetheless, there still appears to be interest in this type of device: on Kickstarter, a pair of wireless headphones promising a similar type of advanced fitness monitoring have gathered over $2 million — almost eight times the campaign's initial goal — to fund their production.

In Apple's patent illustrations, "110" indicates the location of an activity monitor.

Recent reports say that Apple has been working on a smartwatch with similar health sensors and potentially even more advanced medical applications. Of course, they're all just rumors for now, but from the sound of it, Apple's smartwatch team is filled with experts on health that could be creating a device with similar capabilities. With the tech industry's heightened interest in fitness, it wouldn't be surprising to see temperature, perspiration, and heart monitoring turn up elsewhere in Apple's product line.