Apple Vision Pro finger controllers could be the VR equivalent of the Apple Pencil

A person using an Apple Vision Pro headset. There are multiple virtual displays in front of them, as well as a virtual keyboard.
(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple unveiled its Vision Pro headset, it made a point of saying you wouldn’t need any external controllers to use it, just your fingers. Well, that might not end up being true forever, as a recent patent has revealed that Apple has had an intriguing idea for how you could one day control the headset – and it might take things to the next level.

As spotted by Patently Apple, future iterations of the Vision Pro might include finger-pointer devices that look an awful lot like space-age thimbles. But these aren’t designed to help you with your knitting; no, they might one day let you draw and write with the Vision Pro more accurately than ever before.

Apple’s idea involves showing a virtual trackpad on the Vision Pro’s display. Once you’re wearing the finger controllers, they’d connect to the headset and allow it to track your finger movements more closely, giving you a more reliable way of interacting with the trackpad than if you were to simply use your unadorned fingers.

But this trackpad wouldn’t just be a floating area in space; it would be mapped to a physical location in front of you, such as a portion of the desk you’re sitting at. That’s important, because it would allow you to be more consistent with your trackpad motions. Try it now – you’ll find that tracing a shape on a solid surface is much easier and more comfortable than trying to do it in mid-air.

The Apple Pencil moment

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

The addition of the finger trackers is an interesting move by Apple, as it seems to be an admission that the Vision Pro’s camera system is perhaps not yet accurate enough for really fine-grained work of the kind a trackpad would be good at.

By adding more precision via the finger controllers, Apple could be paving the way for additional ways to use the Vision Pro. Activities like digital painting might become much more viable while wearing the headset, as could writing messages by hand.

That could make these finger pointers an accessory akin the iPad’s Apple Pencil: not necessary for most people to enjoy the device, but something that can seriously ramp up its potential in the right hands (or on the right fingers), and for certain applications.

Seeing as this idea is just a patent at this point, we don’t know when (or if) Apple will implement it; the company could just be exploring ideas. Still, it’s something to look out for in the coming months and years – perhaps it’ll even make an appearance in the second-generation Vision Pro, which could give that device a serious usability boost.

You might also like

Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.