Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,262,797) for “computer systems with wearable force sensing devices.” It hints at wearable devices beyond the Apple Watch that could interact with Macs, iPhones, iPads, and the company’s rumored augmented reality/virtual reality headset.
About the patent
Info in the patent and accompanying graphics involve (my terms, not Apple’s) Apple Gloves, an Apple Ring, and Apple Socks. In the patent filing, Apple notes that ectronic devices such as computers can be controlled using computer mice and other input accessories. Smartphones, tablets, and computers may have touch sensitive input surfaces that gather user input. In computer-generated-reality systems, input accessories such as force-feedback gloves can be used to control virtual objects.
However, Apple says that devices such as these “may not be convenient for a user, may be cumbersome or uncomfortable, or may not satisfactorily gather input or provide output.” The tech giant’s idea is for a system involving a wearable electronic device that gathers force input. The device may transmit force measurement information and other input to external equipment such as a head-mounted device to control the external equipment. For example, the device may have wireless communications circuitry that wirelessly transmits force measurement information to an external electronic device to control the external device.
The wearable electronic device may have a force sensor that gathers force measurements from a body part of a user as the wearable electronic device is being worn against the body part of the user. The force sensor may have a force sensor housing structure that is coupled to a wearable electronic device housing structure. The wearable electronic device housing structure may be configured to be worn on a finger, hand, arm, foot, leg, head, wrist, or other body part of a user.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent with technical details: “A system may include a wearable electronic device that gathers force input. The device may transmit force measurement information and other input to external equipment such as a head-mounted device. The wearable electronic device may have a force sensor that gathers force measurements as the wearable electronic device is being worn.
“The force sensor may have a force sensor housing structure configured to form a fluid-filled channel and one or more collapsible force sensor elements such as collapsible fluid-filled domes or other protruding portions of the force sensor housing structure. A pressure sensor may monitor changes in pressure in a fluid that fills the channel and the fluid-filled domes. The monitored changes in pressure represent force measurements for force applied by a user’s body part or other objects on the collapsible force sensor elements.”
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