A new Apple Watch feature could let you swap information with a high five, handshake, or a hug

Drake apple jacketJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesApple exec Eddy Cue gives Drake a high five at the launch of Apple Music.

Apple is testing a new way to transfer files between wearables like the Apple Watch, prompted by simple, everyday greeting gestures.

The company has filed a new patent describing a system that lets you exchange contact details and other data through a number of set “greeting events”, Patently Apple reports. Two devices belonging to different users could detect they are close to one another using Bluetooth or NFC proximity sensors.

Then, a “greeting event” — which could be any number of different gestures, such as a hug, handshake, high five, bow, or fist bump — would prompt a transfer of data:

Apple Watch fist bump patentWIPOA diagram from the Apple patent.

Interestingly, the Apple Watch would also be able to work out the type data to send depending on where you are and what you are doing. So, for example, the wearable could tell you were at work because of your location, and because you were connected to the office network. It could also establish the identity of the user of the other device and their previous interactions with you, so you could automatically exchange files with a colleague, or contact details with a new client.

The wearable could also be set to send certain information in response to a certain gesture — a handshake with your boss, for example, or hugging a friend.

The patent filing says: “If the device can recognise a natural greeting gesture, exchange of sharable data objects can automatically occur without any user action beyond the making of the gesture. In such instances, the user need not give thought to asking for or providing the information that is automatically exchanged. As another example, users may agree between themselves to exchange information and then perform the appropriate greeting gesture to trigger the exchange.”

While this would work particularly well with the Apple Watch, the patent also says the system could work jewellery, eyewear, headband, scarf, belt, shoe or another item of clothing.

While AirDrop already lets you transfer any kind of file — photos, videos, phone contacts, and even Map locations — from one iPhone, Mac or iPad to another, a semi-automated system would work a lot better when considering the Apple Watch’s tiny screen.

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