Apple's Future Smart Ring Could Detect Which Device the User Is Pointing To

As Apple continues to work on its smart ring, a new patent describes its potential use of a U1 chip that detects where the user is pointing to.
Fabienne Lang
Apple Smart RingUSPTO Patent

You may soon be able to rid yourself of your Apple Watch, as Apple continues to work on its smart ring. A newly released patent with updates on the smart ring's functionality was posted online on the USPTO patent's website detailing how Apple's ring could detect which device its user is pointing it to. 

This builds on a previous patent Apple released about the smart ring, but now it includes a plan for point detection

Could this be the one ring to rule them all? 


Point detection from a ring

The U.S. Patent No. 10,627,902 points out the following reasons as to why an Apple smart ring with point detection would be useful in this day and age: 

"The use of touch-sensitive surfaces as input devices for computers and other electronic computing devices has increased significantly in recent years," it says. "Use of existing touchpads and touch-screen displays, however, may be cumbersome, inconvenient, or inefficient for certain tasks and applications."

"A user's hands may be preoccupied with another task, for example, or the user's hands and/or arms may become fatigued after holding the device in a viewing position for extended periods of time," it continues. "The light emitted by a touchscreen may be inappropriate in certain social environments or even dangerous if it gives away the position of a threatened user."

Aside from that worrying last comment, it certainly looks like a smart ring would simplify many an Apple device user's life. 

Apple's Future Smart Ring Could Detect Which Device the User Is Pointing To
Apple's Smart Ring drawings, Source: U.S. Patent No. 10,627,902

Pointing out the obvious claim that "[A ring gives a user] faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for controlling external electronic devices," says Apple, "thereby increasing the effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction with such devices," it seems quite clear to understand how this ring could be useful in many ways. 

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So this precious ring could be an essential controller of other devices around the home or office and deliver crucial information at your fingertips. The user would receive distinctive taps for new notifications, it could unlock someone's front door at the flick of their finger, or switch their lights on or off just as easily. 

As the patent continues by pointing out "[The ring] detects an input, and, in response...[transmits instructions] in accordance with a determination that a predefined hand gesture directed toward a first external electronic device was performed." 

All in all, the ring needs to be able to detect gestures so that it, and the device it's pointing at, can recognize what to do next. The patent doesn't say so in as many words, but it's inferring that it could use the Ultra Wideband. Apple's U1 chip, used in its iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, is thus far the only one that is able to speed up the selection of a device using AirDrop. This could be the answer Apple is looking for in terms of precise and rapid tracking.

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