As Apple continues to come under pressure to diversify its product range, the prospect of an Apple Smart Ring in the foreseeable future looms tantalisingly. At least, this is the case if we are to believe the evidence of a recent patent application from the consumer electronics giant.
Apple Smart Ring emerges
Of course, it is important to emphasize that Apple issues patents on a very regular basis, and some of the most publicized and plausible of these patents have never been included in any form of Apple technology. So this latest patent shouldn’t be seen as cast-iron evidence that Apple is about to release a Smart Ring in the foreseeable future, but it does indicate that the company has at least considered such a product.
The so-called iRing could come about thanks to a new patent application from Apple, which is based around a finger-mounted gadget packed with motion sensors, microphones, a haptic feedback system, cameras and a tiny display. It seems natural that such a device would fit a ring, and this is certainly one area in which Apple has yet to venture!
With Apple having released the first Apple Watch earlier this year, and strongly expected to update the smartwatch in 2016, the consumer electronics giant has indicated a commitment to manufacturing extremely portable electronics. If the Apple Watch hasn’t been the massive hit that Apple was hoping for, it has still come to almost completely dominate the smartwatch market, and Apple is hoping to further define the purpose of the Apple Watch as the niche develops.
An Apple Smart Ring may seem to be pretty limited in terms of its capabilities, but it certainly seems that Apple is considering such a gadget. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) published the application for what appears to be such a device on Thursday, and the title of the patent provided a further clue into Apple’s thinking on the subject. Titled “Devices and methods for a ring computing device,” it seems certain that Apple is thus considering an Apple Smart Ring at some point in the future.
Smart Ring interactivity
Information from the patent indicates that the ring has been designed to interact with a wide variety of other devices. This is becoming a particular characteristic of Apple devices, particularly as the corporation looks for consumers to use the Apple Watch and iPhone series in conjunction with one another. The Apple Smart Ring would seemingly be able to interact with other devices via touch, motion or voice, with iPhone and Apple TV apparently open to command via the prototype of this device.
Numerous aspects of the patent have already seen the light of day with the recent Apple Watch release, with notable emphasis being placed on the Taptic Engine and Force Touch. It seems that Apple believes it will be no problem for its engineers to migrate this technology from the Apple Watch TV to an Apple Smart Ring, and this opens up a wide variety of possibilities for the California-based company.
In particular, it seems that the manufacturer of the iconic iPhone series intends to accessorize and increase the raft of wearables it has already produced, and is exploring innovations in order to achieve this aim. Certainly when the Apple Watch was released it was notable for the vast array of strap and face options that were available to consumers, and Apple generally considers this to have been a successful strategy for the smartwatch. It was noticeable that Apple decided to extend the number of iPhone models available when it released the recent iPhone 6s, and Apple is clearly attempting to create a culture in which people mix and match various iProducts with the intention of creating a particularly fertile niche of collaboration.
Technology in the Apple Smart Ring could be surprisingly sophisticated. The patent application submitted indicates that the hardware will contain an on-board processor. It would have been unimaginable until quite recently to imagine a ring containing a computer processing unit, but such smart devices are becoming increasingly feasible, and will indeed be part of everyday life in the very near future.
Touchscreens of various dimensions are also possible to provide output, floating the idea that we may be receiving information through our rings in due course. The Apple Smart Ring will also, of course, need to have strong fashion elements, and thus enthusiasts of style may note that the chassis for the Apple Smart Ring can constructed from various materials – gold, platinum or silicone.
The patent also demonstrates that a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope module could enable the Apple Smart Ring to provide handwriting capture capabilities. This is an innovation that Apple is now including in its entire range of products, and it seems that this could migrate to the Apple Smart Ring as well.
Documentation also indicates that it is possible for two Apple Smart Rings to be used simultaneously, therefore enabling the user to control multiple sides of an in-built user interface. The Apple Smart Ring will be fully connectible as well, with Wi-Fi Bluetooth and NFC all available. The last of these options provides some interesting possibilities, with the potential for two users to shake hands and transfer money through the most simple and commonplace of gestures. Actions can also be operated via vocal authorization, with data transfer seemingly possible through the Apples Smart Ring as well.
This may seem like a particularly obscure piece of technology that would only ever have a niche following. But as Apple looks to expand its product range, and the idea of connectible devices surrounding us on an everyday bases becomes normality, we could see large numbers of people wearing Apple Smart Rings sooner than one might imagine.