Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230073039 A1) for “finger devices with self-mixing interferometer proximity sensors.” It involves a potential “Apple Glove” or “Apple Ring.”
About the patent filing
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, of course, ctronic devices such as computers can be controlled using computer mice and other input accessories. In virtual reality systems, force-feedback gloves can be used to control virtual objects. Cellular telephones may have touch screen displays and vibrators that are used to create haptic feedback in response to touch input.
However, Apple says that devices such as these may not be convenient for a user, may be cumbersome or uncomfortable, or may provide inadequate feedback. The company thinks that Apple Gloves or Apple Rings could be them answer.
Apple has been granted various patents for both potential devices. For example, one patent for “finger beam for generating haptic feedback” would allow Macs equipped with the proper cameras and sensors to react to a user wearing Apple Gloves. Another patent is for gloves that could interact with Macs, iPads, or the rumored “RealityPro” AR/VR headset.
Regarding an Apple Ring, in January Apple was granted a patent for “Sensors for electronic ring devices.” And in June 2022 the tech giant was granted two more patents for an Apple Ring. Number 11,360,587 is for “deployment systems for computer system finger devices.” Patent number 11,360,558 is for “computer systems with finger devices.”
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “A system may include one or more finger devices that gather input from a user’s fingers. A finger device may include one or more self-mixing interferometric proximity sensors that measure a distance to the user’s finger. The proximity sensor may measure changes in distance between the proximity sensor and a flexible membrane that rests against a side portion of the user’s finger.
“The self-mixing interferometric proximity sensor may include a laser and a photodiode. In some arrangements, a single laser driver may drive the lasers of multiple self-mixing proximity sensors using time-multiplexing. The self-mixing proximity sensor may operate according to a duty cycle. Interpolation and stitching may be used to determine the total displacement of the user’s finger including both the on periods and off periods of the self-mixing proximity sensor.”