Apple has filed for another patent (number 10,739,820) for an “expandable ring device” that hints at an “Apple Ring” that could be used to control Macs, iPhones, iPads, and virtual reality systems.
In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that electronic 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. 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 solution? A ring device.
This isn’t the first talk of an Apple smart ring. In 2013 Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White predicted that Apple would introduce an Apple-branded HDTV (the “iTV”) with an accompanying “iRing,” a ring accessory that lets you control the set by pointing their finger. White said the “iRing” accessory would act as a “navigation pointer” for the television. It will also allow the TV set to enhance motion detection and replace some of the functionality found in a remote, he added.
Of course, the “iTV” never happened. But Apple could have plans for an Apple Ring.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “A system may include ring devices. A ring device may have a housing that is configured to be worn on a finger of a user. Sensors such as force sensors, ultrasonic sensors, inertial measurement units, optical sensors, touch sensors, and other components may be used in gathering input from a user. Control circuitry may wirelessly transmit information gathered from sensors and other input devices to an associated electronic device.
“The information may be used in controlling operation of the electronic device. The housing of the ring device may have an annular main body and an expandable portion coupled to the main body. The expandable portion may include a flap with a hinge, a rotatable housing member, a housing with an internal adjustable frame and a cover, an expandable housing formed from an expandable tube coupled between first and second annular devices, and other expandable structures.”