It’s official: Apple has actually designed a smart ring.
The company has applied to patent a design for its own “ring computing device,” which contains a ring-mounted touchscreen, a computer processor, wireless transceiver, and rechargeable power source.
The patent reads like a description of many current Apple Watch features but in miniature, or those that could be added to the Watch in the future. It explains that the smart ring would ideally be worn on the first finger of either hand, and be operated using a second finger through buttons or a scroller similar to the Apple Watch’s rotating crown.
Most images of the product have a small touch screen that responds to differences in pressure, like the new 3D Touch feature in the iPhone 6S. Apple’s smart ring could also be activated with voice commands, meaning that Siri would probably make it on board. With a microphone and speaker it looks like the ring could be able to field phone calls as well.
Here’s a version of the ring with a touch screen:
And another without one:
There seem to be a few different design options. One is round, and the other more rectangular:
Using a mix of input methods from its touch screen and buttons to voice command and even gestures, the ring could be used to operate a number of other devices, like an iPhone or Apple TV, Homekit smart home devices or in-car entertainment systems like CarPlay.
The ring can talk to the device it’s paired with in a number of ways, like Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth, and even NFC. The patent outlines a scenario — picked up by AppleInsider — where the user is able to transfer money to someone else with a handshake, and authorise the transaction with a voice command. This could also be used to transfer messages or share files with another ring user.
The ring also includes biometric sensors and monitors the user’s heart rate.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that an Apple Ring will materialise anytime soon, if at all. Apple is famous for patenting products without building them, and the patent could mean Apple originally meant to take its wearable ambitions in another direction.
There are quite a few smart rings out there already, and companies like Ringly haven’t quite managed to crack the market. Interestingly, some of the designs look quite a lot like a ring by London-based startup Kovert Designs, which tries to reduce the number of notifications you get rather than bombarding you with notifications for every message you get.
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