Apple’s smart ring could be a wearable device the Cupertino company is developing that could control another device through touch and pressure-sensitive controls on the ring’s surface, according to details from a recently granted patent. The smart ring proposed in the company’s latest patent is also capable of providing haptic feedback for notifications. Apple has spent years developing a ring-like smart wearable — it filed a patent application for a ring control for a VR device a few years ago.
The U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) published the patent on Tuesday US 11733790 B2 (pass AppleInsider) describes a “ring input device with pressure sensitive input”. The patent application was filed in September 2021 and granted on August 22. The document lists Michael Beyhs, Richard Huizar, Filip Ilievski, Jean Lu, and Thayne Miller as inventors of the device.
Apple describes the electronic rings as “unobtrusive everyday communication devices” that can communicate with other compatible devices via a wireless connection because they are “frequently worn and generally small.” The patent also describes the use of the ring as a wristband, part of a hoop earring or necklace, or even a toe ring.
The patent document demonstrates the use of one such connected device that can wirelessly receive notifications from a smartphone and provide haptic feedback to the wearer’s fingers. The user can then use the ring to respond to that feedback. The document also suggests that the device can control smartphones, headphones, computers and tablets.
One of several figures in the patent document (FIG. 1A) shows a “rotating strap” (106) and an electronic jewelry system (110) on the strap mechanism (102). The inner portion of the ring includes a fixed inner strap (104) and contact pads (108), and the smart ring is expected to use these components in series to detect inputs.
It’s worth noting that Apple has been developing several technologies for small wearable devices, including rings, over the past few years. A patent application filed with the USPTO by the iPhone maker back in 2021 described a “self-mixing interferometry-based gesture input system, including wearable or handheld devices,” that could be used to control other Apple devices such as VR headsets. equipment.
Apple has filed patent applications for a variety of products, but not all of the company’s ideas have been translated into consumer electronics. As with all of the devices described in the patent filings, there’s no indication whether Apple will eventually launch a product that uses these technologies, or whether it will be improved and used in other products in the future.