Apple's Smart Ring may be able to spot when you snap your fingers

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 26

Skin to skin detection could mean a future Apple Ring can be controlled with the swipe of a thumb, plus it could spot when you're playing rock, paper, scissors.

Genki's Wave for Work smart ring
Genki's Wave for Work smart ring



Apart from a joke that went viral about Apple's smart rings detecting infidelity, this is one potential device that wasn't getting much attention from the rumor mill until January 2024, when expectations seemed to all kick off again. Yet Apple has consistently been researching smart rings plus accessories for it -- and now it's been granted another related patent.

This newly-granted patent, "Skin-To-Skin Contact Detection," covers multiple ways of detecting "contact or movement gestures between a first body part and a second body part." That includes options that seem more relevant to Apple Watch bands, or even just a person's hands interlocking, but it comes down to both skin and gesture detection.

"This also relates to devices and methods of detecting gestures," says Apple, "between a finger of one hand and other body parts (e.g., other fingers or a thumb on the same hand, or the opposing hand) using a device (e.g., a ring) on each of multiple fingers of the same hand, or on fingers of different hands."

Either a ring or a very, very big bangle
Either a ring or a very, very big bangle



"Sense circuitry in each device can be configured to sense a signal at one or more sense electrodes in the device in response to drive signals applied to a drive electrode in each of the devices," it continues. "When a particular gesture is detected, an operation can be initiated."

One of the example illustrations shows how a person's hand position changes when they press their finger and thumb together, for instance. "[It shows] a hand with an index finger supporting a wearable device (e.g., a ring) but not making contact with a thumb."

Then a second illustration shows when "the index finger is now making contact with the thumb." Apple's proposed system will recognize the touch, and also generate "a sense output signal when the index finger and thumb make and break contact."

Other examples show a user pressing a finger of one hand into the palm of the other, which in theory doesn't necessitate a ring. But it's all about pressures and detecting movement.

So consequently still more illustrations show when a user's fingers are opened wide, or closed back up together. There is an implied facility for that user to stroke or swipe on the ring, but it's about the pressures of two fingers in contact.

Seriously. Scissors.
Seriously. Scissors.



Which means that, yes, a future Apple Smart Ring could be used in some kind of remote or virtual game of rock, paper, scissors.

Since the patent was first filed, Apple has release the Apple Vision Pro, though, and it is possible to see some parallels. Where this patent does specifically and repeatedly refer to skin-to-skin contact, some of the gestures are similar to the ones that the Apple Vision Pro can detect in order to stretch out or reposition windows.

Just as with the Apple Car, then, it's possible that research into one area has directly benefited a seemingly entirely separate one.

This patent is credited to one inventor, Michael J. Beyhs, whose previous work for Apple includes a system for a touch- and light-sensitive Apple Watch Digital Crown.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Maybe it can be used to control the AR menus better with your hands. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,036member
    All this time I've been tracking my Rock Paper Scissors manually like a caveman.
    JP234watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    Maybe I'll be able to throw away that Apple TV remote now.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    JP234 said:
    Sounds like Apple is really reaching on this one. And worse, it's copycat tech.
    It will never sell. 
    JP234
  • Reply 5 of 7
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,778member
    JP234 said:
    Sounds like Apple is really reaching on this one. And worse, it's copycat tech.
    To be fair, the iPhone was not the first phone either.
    watto_cobraJP234
  • Reply 6 of 7
    amar99amar99 Posts: 181member
    After the Murdoch trial it's clear Apple's already logging far more than is widely known by the average user about what gets tracked on the iPhone (orientation tilt log, accelerator log to see when it was picked up or put down, etc...Google "iphone KnowledgeC database" for more info)

    Would think twice before wearing an even more granular tracking device.
    edited April 2023
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