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Here’s Apple’s idea for a smart ring

Apple has some interest in another wearable: smart rings. A patent application published today describes an interactive smart ring that could work in conjunction with larger devices, like a phone. As Apple describes it, the ring could have a touchpad or a touchscreen, it'd likely have haptic feedback to let a wearer know when something has happened, and it could include a microphone for dictating commands. The ring might even be able to determine what you're writing by following the motion of your hand.

Apple says "a need exists" for a more efficient way to use a touchscreen

Keep in mind that this is only a patent application, which says very little about Apple's actual plans. Many of Apple's patents don't go on to be recognizable products, so one shouldn't assume that Apple is putting a smart ring into production. Still, the application shows that Apple — at least in some small way — has smart rings on its mind. And this patent application explains why Apple thinks they're interesting, even if it doesn't fully explain what we'd do with an Apple-made ring.

apple smart ring patent application

Using current touchscreen devices, Apple writes, "may be cumbersome, inconvenient, or inefficient for certain tasks and applications." It suggests that a smart ring would fit in when a person is already doing something with their hands or when they've become fatigued from holding a larger device up for an extended period of time. "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," the application adds. "A need therefore exists for a more discreet, safer, more efficient, or more ergonomic way to interact with touch pads or touch screens."

The patent application basically says that smartphones fail in a lot of important moments that a small wearable device wouldn't. There are already a number of smart rings on the market, though they're largely third-party devices made for controlling phones and other electronics over Bluetooth. None appear to be quite as robust as the ring that Apple describes here.

apple smart ring patent application