Thursday 22 February 2018

Apple's 'iRing' patent is firm's latest wearable technology move

Apple have patented a new technology that will allow users to control their phone with a ring.
Apple have patented a new technology that will allow users to control their phone with a ring.

Rhiannon Williams

Apple is looking at the development of a wearable ring with a small screen.

The "devices and methods for a ring computing device" patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday.

The patent describes a device comprising of a microphone for voice commands, a finger-ring mounted touchscreen and a sensor for writing or character recognition.

A user wearing the gadget would be notified that their voice command had been transmitted to an external electronic device, presumably an accompanying iPhone over WiFi, by haptic feedback in a similar method to the Apple Watch.

The report details how a ring worn on the index finger could be used to control a remote electronic device, activate connected lighting or heating systems at home or within a car, or act as a replacement for a computer mouse.

A ring-mounted touchscreen could help prevent the user's hands and arms from "becoming fatigued" in the way they would if they were to hold a traditionally larger touchpad and touchscreen display for extended periods of time, the report explained.

The wearer could indicate their desire to link with another device through gesture control. This could be performed by pointing at the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV etc, or by "flicking or snapping their wrist" during the pointing gesture.

Another area explored is that of money transfer via two ring-wearers shaking hands. "The users may configure their devices to share other information, messages, or money," the report read. "For example, the user may say "by shaking hands with Steve I agree to give him $20," which is recorded and converted to text and/or computer instructions, such that when the user shakes hands with Steve, and the user's ring is detected by an external device or a second ring worn by Steve, $20 is paid to Steve."

The device is also suggested as carrying biometric sensors for heart rate monitoring and motion as seen within the Apple Watch.

However, there is no guarantee the 'iRing' will ever see the light of day. Apple is thought to be among many tech companies who file patents in order to prevent rivals licensing certain features or inventions.

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