We already know Apple is exploring the idea of making a smart ring, like a miniature Apple Watch worn on a finger.
Now, thanks to a newly unearthed patent, it looks like Apple is developing a way for wearers of a smart ring to control other devices by pointing and waving at them.
The patent, which was filed in September 2019 and made public in April 2020, describes how an “electronic ring computing device” could be used to interact with other devices and user interfaces.
First spotted by Apple Insider, the document suggests how a smart ring could control other devices by being pointed at them. We can see a future where the Apple Ring is used to control an Apple TV or HomePod by pointing, then the wearer performs a gesture to control it, such as pausing content or adjusting the volume.
Changes to volume, brightness, temperature and the appearance of a user interface are all mentioned in the patent, suggesting Apple sees a future where the wearable could control a smart home heating system, among other devices.
It is thought that the ring could use Apple’s U1 chip to communicate with other devices. The chip, which uses ultra-wideband technology, already features in the iPhone 11.
An earlier patent revealed how Apple is working on a ring that includes biometric sensors, Siri connectivity and a small touchscreen interface, plus an accelerometer for understanding gesture controls. The new patent expands on this by saying the ring could have its own small physical controls, including a trackball.
Going further still, the patent suggests how one Apple smart ring-wearer could communicate with another using a tiny microphone inside the device. This reminds us of the Walkie-Talkie app of the Apple Watch.
There’s a lot to get excited about here, but we must include the usual caveat that technology companies create patents all the time, and just because the document exists it doesn’t mean what it describes will go on sale, or even see the light of day.
That said, it’s fascinating to see what Apple has planned for the future of wearables, and how it hopes to cram a huge amount of technology into a device the size of a ring.