According to foreign media reports, Apple is continuing to research and develop a new wearable device – smart ring. The smart ring includes a touch screen mounted on the finger that can also be used to wirelessly transmit commands to another device in the vicinity.
So far, Apple has taken the lead in wearable computing, Apple’s smartwatch dominates the smart watch market, and AirPods is one of today’s most popular wireless headsets. While this is a good start for the iPhone maker, the company has not stayed asleep on the achievements of its wearables.
On Tuesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent called “Devices, Methods, and User Interface for a Wearable Electronic Ring Computing Device.” In this patent, Apple describes a smart ring that can be worn on a finger. Apple’s patent claims that this smart ring is not just a peripheral input device for another device, such as a wearable wireless mouse, but a mini smart watch in the form of a smart ring.
This smart ring contains a processor, wireless transceiver, power supply and microphone. Other sensors will also be included in the ring to detect and interpret gestures, as well as a control panel that is perpendicular to the circumference of the ring, similar in functionality to the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown.
Such a smart ring may also include a plurality of haptic actuators for providing force feedback information and “delivery direction information” to the user, a motion sensor for “sensing writing action” for health tracking and security. Biometric sensors, as well as NFC communications. The wireless connection can also be extended to send identification information about the user to the secondary device, allowing it to unlock the Mac computer, just like the Apple Watch related features.
Apple-defined gestures include using a finger with a ring to point to a separate device to prompt for a wireless link, swiping or flicking a gesture to change a selection in a menu, and the like.
By using multiple emitters located at different locations, this smart ring may also share its angle of rotation with other devices and triangulate the position of each emitter in 3D space with other hardware. While this helps with more accurate motion detection, knowing where two or three specific points on the smart ring are present can help to understand the exact angle of the smart ring or its motion (including rotational motion).
The above patent also mentions a touch screen that can be used to input characters drawn by a user, similar to a text input method provided by Apple Watch.
Apple submits a large number of patent applications each week, but this does not mean that all the concepts elaborated by the company can be converted into finished products, but they at least indicate the area of interest that the iPhone manufacturer is interested in in research and development.
Previously, a ring-like device appeared in the patent application, including the “Devices and Methods For A Ring Computing Device” similar to the title that appeared in 2015. This patent describes a circular wearable device with a display. Its display uses voice, gestures, and touch inputs to control and interact with larger computing devices.
Considering the similarities with the patent application and Apple’s work in developing Apple Watch, Apple’s development of smart rings or similar hardware seems to be a logical process. Not everyone wants to wear an Apple Watch, and not everyone wants to wear an AirPods headset with health monitoring, which makes the smart ring look like a wise choice.
Apple is not the only large technology company that considers smart rings as a computing platform. Amazon recently launched the Echo Loop, a smart ring that contains two microphones that can be activated at the push of a button and provide tactile feedback. It also relies on a separate host device to perform command and data connections, and supports Alexa voice assistant.