Apple Ring could let you control devices around you by pointing at them

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Apple Ring 1
Will Apple ever make an Apple Ring?
Photo: USPTO/Apple

Apple hasn’t given up on the idea of an Apple Ring wearable that could be used to control Apple devices by performing specific hand gestures. The concept has been around for a few years, but Apple has yet to launch such a product.

However, on Tuesday it was granted a second patent for its invention, offering some more information about the device. Coming soon to a ring finger near you?

As Patently Apple, which published news of the second patent, points out, its main changes from a 2015 original are the claims and emphasis.

It describes a “wireless ring” gadget that could be used for controlling an external electronic device. By using predefined hand gesture in the direction of a particular object, it would be possible to trigger certain instructions. The patent’s claims cover “predefined hand gesture includes a pointing gesture;” a ring with “a touch-sensitive surface,” and the ability to input gestures on the touch-sensitive surface; and control via movement of the ring device.

While the idea of an Apple Ring might sound goofy at first, there’s plenty of potential for such an interface. Dating back to the first iPhone, Apple has shown how sensors like accelerometers can be useful for giving a device the ability to sense its orientation in physical space. Similarly, think how transformational gestures like “pinch to zoom” have been. If Apple was able to create a device that enabled you to control smart home devices or Mac features with a wave of your hand, it could be highly significant.

Apple Ring: Tech could be useful for Apple Watch, too

The technology could even potentially be deployed on an Apple Watch. There’s no mention of such a thing here, but researchers at institutes like Carnegie Mellon, have shown that it is possible to modify a smart watch to recognize hand gestures. That would have the added advantage of not only increasing Apple Watch functionality, but stopping Apple having to introduce another piece of hardware to the market.

You can check out the original Apple Ring 2015 patent, which has since been updated with the latest claims, here. The latest patent for an Apple Ring was filed in the third quarter of 2019. It was published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Two Apple engineers are named on the patent. Marcos Vescovi is an Apple engineering manager, while Marcel Van Os is a senior interface designer.