One of the big selling points of the Apple Watch Series 9 was Double Tap, which enabled you to use a pinch gesture to dismiss notifications and confirm on-screen options. And now a new third-party Apple Watch band takes that much further. The Mudra Band turns your Apple Watch into a gesture controller that you can use for other Apple devices such as your iPhone or Apple TV, enabling you to control things with a wave of the arm or a flick of the wrist.
The creators call the system Air-Touch, and in its demos it shows people navigating their way around Apple TV, scrolling on their MacBook Pros and even playing Fruit Ninja on their iPad. The system was previously announced a few years ago on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding website, and it's now finally shipping.
So how does it work, and should you want one?
How the Mudra Band turns thoughts into taps
The secret sauce here is a set of electrodes that "capture the neural signals sent from your brain, through the wrist, to your fingers." The companion iPhone app enables you to tweak the sensitivity of the band and the speed of movement in much the same way you'd adjust your Mac's mouse, and it supports swipes, pinches and drag and drop. The band has its own battery so shouldn't affect your Apple Watch's stamina, but you'll need to charge the band every two days or so.
We haven't had the opportunity to test this device yet, but on the basis of the demo videos it does look a little sluggish: I'm not sure I'd get a better Fruit Ninja score on my iPad Pro with the band compared to what I can do with swiping, or that doing it from a few feet away is any more convenient. But it's an interesting device, and it indicates what future generations of Apple Watch might do.
That's the elephant in the room here: Apple has a long history of what's become known as "Sherlocking", which is when it integrates features from third party products into its own products. And while the Mudra Band is a hardware device, what it does is really a feature rather than a product: Apple could deliver something very similar using the motion sensors in the Apple Watch. And there are already gesture controls in there in the Assistive Touch accessibility features – the same place from which Double Tap emerged. For now, though, those gestures won't control your Apple TV.
The Mudra Band is $349 / £278 whether you go for the 38/40/41mm version or the 42/44/45mm version. It's compatible with Apple Watch models from the Series 3 onwards.