This spring, Apple plunged into the wearable technology market with its Apple Watch. Representing a new layer of mobility for the company that revolutionized the technology we could fit in our pockets, the Apple Watch gave users the ability to interact with a "smart" interface without the need to hold a dedicated device in their hands. According to a patent recently filed by the Cupertino company, Apple is considering what could be done with an even smaller piece of wearable technology: a smart ring.
The patent, published on October 1, describes an interactive smart ring that could work in conjunction with larger devices, like an iPhone. In the patent, Apple also explores the possibility of integrating a touch screen or trackpad into the device, which would be worn on the index finger and controlled with the thumb. The smart ring would likely include haptic feedback to alert the wearer to happenings on his or her device, and motion tracking technology would allow users to control their devices by moving their hands and fingers.
This control function is central to the patent, which states that using current touch screen devices "may be cumbersome, inconvenient, or inefficient for certain tasks and applications." Apple suggests that a smart ring would fit in when a person is already doing something with their hands or when they've become fatigued from holding a larger device up for an extended period of time.
Another section of the patent describes a wireless charging system for the ring that enables charging when a user's hands are on a surface he or she would normally touch during the day, such as a glove, computer mouse or the steering wheel of a car. This last possibility is of particular interest, considering the rumors surrounding Apple's work producing a car of their own.
As exciting as the prospect of an Apple-made smart ring could be, however, filing a patent does not necessarily mean the technology will ever make its way into consumers' hands.