Apple is exploring building a smart ring after a it won a patent that indicates it's looking at a new wearable tech form factor.
The folks at VentureBeat spotted the revealing patent (pictured below) that showcases a few different versions of a possible smart ring.
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The patent however doesn't describe the ring as a standalone device like the Oura Ring (pictured above) or Motiv smart rings. Instead it would work by pairing with other Apple devices to offer control-like features with gestures and input tech built into the piece of jewelry.
This could mean moving the ring through the air to use gesture-based control, although Apple's also hints that other versions of the ring could include a voice assistant to receive instructions from users. That's a feature we've already seen promised by the recently announced Amazon Echo Loop smart ring.
Apple's ring could also feature a small touch-sensitive input area enabling users to swipe and tap to access features. There are also indications the ring would offer haptic feedback to give users directions as they navigate, or a small dial like the Apple Watch's digital crown for physical input. There are also mentions of a motion sensor to detect sophisticated gestures like a page-turn or the twist of a wrist.
Apple's clearly at least partly in blue-sky thinking mode here. Elsewhere in the patent it details the potential for a small display on the ring, along with the option of a telephone module for taking and making calls. That's the sort of thing that we'd imagine won't be possible for some time, given the battery constraints of the form factor.
Still, battery life is firmly on the agenda; the patent shows a few possible charging methods including mats, wireless stands like that in the image above, and the option of a charger that could actually power up more than one ring at a time.
As we always say about patents, there's a good chance that nothing comes of this at all. Smart rings do already exist though, and a handful of startups have proved that the form factor can work. Amazon's entry into the space signals the first major tech company to explore the smart ring space. So maybe Apple will be the next big tech name to smarten up our fingers.