Apple, like all other large tech companies, is always looking to improve its offerings, and as such, a new patent filed in April came to light on October 13. This patent shows a wristband that translates gestures into commands, possibly for the iPhone 8 and Apple Watch 3.

iphone 8 gesture control
Image Source: USPTO

Many are calling this wrist device a new invention because of the way it interprets user movements. It was first seen by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office last week, and its documentation has serious detail.

The technology

According to the document, the wristband detects and captures information about wrist movements and interprets them to control external devices. It has many sensors which can detect subtle changes in pressure and position of the wrist.

For example, a force sensor may be used to determine the pressure exerted as a user moves his/her hand. This pressure is then sent to the CPU for analysis and compared to previously-recorded movements. Once recognized, these movements can be turned into a real-world command. This would be on a wrist device like the Apple Watch 3 or a paired one like the iPhone 8.

Gestures

The patent called “Wristband device input using wrist movement” includes what the gestures for this invention may be and how, in practice, the device can measure different levels of flexion, leading to the triggering of a command. For instance, a particular gesture/movement of the hand could be used to trigger a phone call. The use of thumbs-up or finger extended could indicate a “like” or some other positive gesture in social networking.

Other hand and wrist movements could control an iPhone 8 or Apple Watch with a clenched fist or forearm movement. They could, in theory, be used to control all manner of functions, such as audio playback and track selection. It is thought that the gestures tied to a watch would be somewhat different than those for an iPhone 8, but there is little detail about what these differences may be. And while the device is still in its early stages, if not just on paper, we won’t know for sometime.

iPhone 8 or Apple Watch control

Will the iPhone 8 be the beneficiary of gesture control? Right now, this is just an extrapolation from the patent document. It doesn’t give any firm indication that this will or won’t happen. However, it’s far more likely that the Apple Watch 3 will get the technology. The reason is because rumors currently suggest Apple is working to connect active band accessories via its diagnostic port.

If you’ve been following the evolution of technology over the past few years, you may find this new invention by Anton M. Davydov quite familiar. In 2013, a company called Thalmic Labs created the Myo armband, a device which can monitor electrical signals passing through muscles and use them to detect arm movement. However, despite catching the drone industry’s attention and receiving rave reviews, the device is seen as niche. As such, it has not caught on with consumers to a level which has made it world-renowned.

As the time of writing this, it is not known if Apple intends to use the patented gesture control system to make something that is commercially viable, combining it with existing products like the iPhone 8 and Apple Watch. It may be, in fact, just a stepping stone in the continued development of its products.