Apple has been granted a very interesting patent which hints at the possibility of using the iPhone (and possibly, the iPad) as an all-encompassing healthcare device.

The patent shows how the existing front-facing camera and sensors on the iPhone could be used to measure all kinds of health data. It also suggests the possibility of additional sensors being added to future devices to enable even more types of data to be tracked.

Amongst the suggestions are contacts for measuring body fat and providing ECG readings, plus the ability to track blood pressure and blood hydration rates.

As noted by 9to5Mac, it’s curious to see how many of these measurements would be technically possible using the existing camera and proximity sensor: “oxygen saturation, pulse rate, perfusion index and a photoplethysmogram (which can monitor breathing rate and detect circulatory conditions like hypovolemia).”

Apple is certainly interested in mixing up the healthcare industry with technology, and though patents are no guarantee that an idea will come to fruition, it certainly signals a healthy interest in adding these kinds of sensors in future.