The act of filing a patent doesn’t necessarily mean that the new invention is rapidly approaching the point of being commercially available, but it seems likely that the company is more serious about the idea than they have been in the past.
This isn’t Apple’s first foray into the idea of a ‘smart’ ring. They filed a patent for a similar device back in 2015 but ultimately didn’t do anything with it. This time around, things are different – a competitor already has a similar product on the market.
Although it’s currently only available in the USA, the Amazon Echo Loop has already been impressing technology enthusiasts, and ticks most of the boxes you’d associate with a ‘smart ring.’ Apple is not a company that likes to be left behind, and so the development of the new device is likely to be treated as a priority.
As part of the patent filing, Apple has given away a few details of what we can expect from their latest creation when it eventually hits the shelves. There are some detailed sketches and concepts which have already hit the internet, but it’s the written details that have come along with them which we find most interesting.
The basic description of the ring is a ‘wearable electronic computing ring device,’ and is curiously listed as an interface as opposed to being considered a standalone device. That may indicate that the purpose of the ring may be to make interaction with other Apple devices easier, rather than simply replacing them. That might mean, for example, remote control of a Mac, an iPad, or an iPhone without having to pick up or touch the devices. Technology that’s listed as being part and parcel of the rings includes hand gesture sensors, voice control and response, and a small touchscreen.
In real terms, this might mean we’ll be able to answer a phone call by gesturing to the ring and holding it to our ear, or even dealing with a video call by holding the ring up to eye level. The wireless transceiver the ring is packing suggests that it will connect to the internet, and the ‘rechargeable power source’ might indicate that it comes with a charger. Alternatively, the ring might be powered by kinesis – therefore charging itself every time the person wearing it moves their hand. Although a little bulkier than a wedding or engagement ring tends to be, it looks like the Apple Ring should be able to fit on one finger without becoming uncomfortable.
The simple answer is that they believe there’s a market. Keeping hold of an iPad or an iPhone for an extended period of time can become uncomfortable, and therefore being able to set the device down on a table and interact with it using a ring would give your hands a break. There’s also the question of the effect that such devices have on the human eye. It’s a well-known fact that the so-called ‘blue light’ that comes from smartphone and tablet screens can strain eyes and disrupt sleep. A ring would likely be less intrusive, and so might be a healthier way to use such devices late at night.
There’s one other potential benefit that Apple is taking into account, too – user safety. They feel that in some circumstances – including emergencies in which a user might be at threat – accessing a phone or an iPad may be impractical or unwise. If your phone was stuck in your pocket and you couldn’t reach it, it would be hard to contact emergency services. Also, if the light from your phone would reveal your location to someone who wished to harm you, trying to call for help through a phone could be dangerous. The ring would be an obvious answer to both problems. There are issues that will hopefully never become relevant to the vast majority of users, but they’re there all the same.
One of the devices which the proposed ring may work best isn’t even available to consumers yet. As we’ve covered in the past, Apple is on the verge of launching ‘Apple Glasses,’ which we’re expecting to see at some point during 2020. It’s with these glasses that the ring might come into its own. The display screen on the ring might be tiny, but if it could interact with the display on the glasses, the realms of possibility open up considerably. A combination of the ring and the glasses could allow you to scroll through the internet and watch videos through your phone without removing the device from your pocket. The sound from the video would, of course, be broadcast directly into your AirPods.
As this exciting-looking project moves forward, we’ll be sure to bring you all the latest news regarding it to you right here on this website – so make sure you check back regularly!