Apple has applied for yet another patent (number US 20230350503 A1) for a ring device for use with the Vision Pro.
The US$3,499 (and higher) Spatial Computer is due in, per Apple, “early 2024” — although I suspect “early” means anytime before summer. And it will apparently only be available in limited quantities at first.
About the patent filing
In the patent filing Apple notes that various devices can be operated by a user with one or more of a variety of input devices that receive user inputs. The user inputs can be communicated to another device for execution of an action that corresponds to the user input.
For example, a head-mountable device (HMD) such as the Vision Pro can be worn by a user to display visual information within the field of view of the user. Outputs provided by the device can include speaker output and/or haptic feedback.
Apple says a user may interact with a Vision Pro via inputs for processing by one or more components of the head-mountable device and/or by components of an input device that is separate from the head-mountable device. For example, the user can provide tactile inputs, voice commands, and other inputs while the HMD is mounted to the user’s head.
Apple says that while some input devices are bulky or require separate tracking mechanisms, an input device can provide a user with intuitive input options while remaining compact. A ring input device could provide a compact form factor that is also able to seamlessly allow the user to perform complex interactions without compromising the overall comfort.
However, some wearable devices, such as rings, can become uncomfortable when using them for extended periods. Apple wants an “Apple Ring” to be comfortable. What’s more, it may also be used as a security key to unlock and control one or more other devices.
The ring input device can include biometric or other security features that allow it to operate as an identifier of the user wearing the device. The ring input device can then communicate with other devices to “allow the user to efficiently and securely interact with each of the devices,” according to Apple.
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “An external device, such as a head-mountable device, can be operated with a ring input device worn on a finger of a user. Such devices can be operated to provide inputs that are received and acted upon by the external device. The inputs can be provided as rotating, tilting, and/or sliding at least a portion of the ring input device with another finger of the user. The ring input device can provide feedback to the user as confirmation that the inputs are being received. A feedback system can also be operated to limit or otherwise provide a force on the finger and/or another portion of the hand to simulate sensations perceived by the user.”