Apple seeks a patent for an expandable smart ring”
To make its intentions for the smart ring clearer, Apple says, “The user may use ring devices in operating a virtual reality or mixed reality device (e.g., head-mounted equipment such as glasses, goggles, a helmet, or other device with a display). During operation, the ring devices may gather user input such as information on interactions between the ring device(s) and the surrounding environment (e.g., interactions between a user’s fingers and the environment including finger motions and other interactions associated with virtual content displayed for a user). The user input may be used in controlling visual output on the display. During operation, haptic output may be provided to the user’s fingers using the ring devices. Haptic output may be used, for example, to provide the fingers of a user with vibrations for notifications, may be used to create detents as a user provides touch input to a touch sensor on the ring, and haptic feedback as the user interacts with external equipment (as examples).”
In most of the examples cited by the patent application, Apple is using communications circuitry in the ring to wirelessly send information to one or more electronic devices in order to control these devices. An inertial measurement unit with an accelerometer would be employed to recognize finger taps or finger gestures. Even the simple act of twisting the ring around a user’s finger could be used for navigation purposes. And the patent application suggests that the ring will generate haptic feedback; vibrations created could signal the user when he or she has received a notification.
Apple Glass could be launched as early as the first quarter of 2021.