An Apple Watch for your finger? New patent for smart ring says it's possible

The Amazon Echo Loop
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon has gotten quite ambitious with its wearables, recently announcing two at its 2019 product event, including the Echo Loop – a smart ring which puts Alexa on your finger.

Now it seems that Apple doesn't plan to be left behind, with the Cupertino firm being granted a patent for a "wearable electronic ring computing device". The patent outlines design options and functionality for a device that would wirelessly interact with your iPhone or MacBook.

The proposed Apple Ring (for the lack of a better name) would feature a touchscreen and microphone, house a computer processor, a wireless transceiver and various sensors, and also have its own rechargeable power source. 

As an Apple product, it will have Siri built in and, according to the patent, work with hand gestures. So that more or less describes the Apple Watch, just in ring form.

The so-called Apple Ring with display and buttons

The so-called Apple Ring with display and buttons (Image credit: Apple)

Amongst the sensors housed within the Apple Ring would be haptic actuators to provide force feedback to the user. There will also be motion sensors that will be capable of identifying "a writing motion" (so you could potentially be able to respond to messages without reaching for your phone), for page turning (flicking) and a swiping motion for navigating the menu system.

The wearable described will also have biometric sensors for fitness tracking and device security. The wireless transmitter could also unlock another device – like an iPhone – depending on proximity – while also syncing wearer information to the phone. 

The patent also describes the proposed smart ring as a device capable of controlling an external device – like an Apple TV or iPad – by drawing directly onto the wearable's small display, although this kind of technology hasn't yet been realised.

Different design ideas for the Apple Ring

Different design ideas for the Apple Ring (Image credit: Apple)

No timeline for the Apple Ring has been provided – it's still just a patent, one of many that Apple files each year, with most of them remaining just that: ideas on paper. In fact, Apple filed a similar patent for ring-like device back in 2015, a year before Microsoft filed one for its own ring-like device.

Amazon, though, has left the starting block already, with the Echo Loop shipping to select paying customers later this year.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.