Apple wants future Apple Watches to respond to small finger movements, gestures

Apple Watch band patentFIGS. 3A-3D illustrate example devices in which electrodes can be formed in a flexible band to detect hand movements and gestures.

Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230105223 A1) for “electrodes for gesture recognition.” The goal is for future Apple Watches to respond to detect and respond to small finger movements and gestures.

About the patent filing

The patent filing related generally to gesture recognition, and more particularly to electrodes formed in a flexible Apple Watch band used to detect gestures performed by a user. In the patent filing, Apple notes that there are many types of input for performing operations on various devices. One of these is hand gestures that can be detected by touch or proximity sensors in a touch sensing panel. 

However, Apple says that these sensors generally have limited detection range, which means the hand gestures must be performed in close proximity to the device. In some embodiments, these gestures can be detected by one or more cameras in communication with the computing system that are able to track the user’s gestures and interpret them as inputs.

However, Apple says that camera-based systems have line of sight limitations, and require complex hardware and image processing. In other embodiments, handheld or wearable devices such as wands, controllers, or gloves can be employed to track user gestures. However these devices are not commonly worn or used, and are therefore less socially acceptable, notes Apple.

The tech giant’s solution? Apple Watch bands in which electrodes can be formed to detect small hand movements and gestures.

Summary of the patent filing

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “Electrodes that can be formed in a flexible band of a wrist-worn device to detect hand gestures are disclosed. Multiple rows of electrodes can be configured to detect electromyography (EMG) signals produced by activity of muscles and tendons. The band can include removable electrical connections (e.g., pogo pins) to enable the electrode signals to be routed to processing circuitry in the housing of the wrist-worn device. 

“Measurements between signals from the active electrodes and one or more reference electrodes can be obtained to capture EMG signals at a number of locations on the band. The measurement method and mode of operation (lower power coarse detection or higher power fine detection) can determine the location and number of electrodes to be measured. These EMG signals can be processed to identify hand movements and recognize gestures associated with those hand movements.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.