August 12, 2022
Apple may be working on a smart ring to act as a controller for a VR headset, patent shows

Apple recently submitted a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) titled “Self-mixing interferometry-based gesture input system including wearable or handheld devices.” Essentially, the patent describes the use of ring-shaped smart devices worn by the user to control other Apple devices. The Ring can be used alone or in pairs and could potentially be used to control Apple VR headsets via hand gestures. It should be noted that as per the report, Apple has only filed a patent for the smart ring so far. The company has not confirmed that such a device will eventually be developed. So this information should be taken with a pinch of salt.

patent, spotty Patently by Apple, reflects the versatility of the product with capabilities for virtual reality as well as augmented reality and mixed reality. The patent by Apple describes the use of a technology called self-mixing interferometry (SMI) which will use one or more SMI sensors to detect hand gestures. An SMI sensor would be able to track the movements of the users’ fingers in relation to the other finger and/or the palm. The SMI sensor will also be able to recognize devices like the Apple Pencil and work accordingly.

apple vr controller body apple_vr_controller_body

Apple’s patent also shows how an SMI sensor can be paired with a stylus
Photo credit: Patent from Apple

The data collected from such SMI sensors would enable real-world objects to be presented in the virtual world for better tactile effects. It will be able to judge objects like the Apple Pencil and determine the various measurements a user has made in the AR and VR space. The patent states that an SMI sensor will be able to operate on a single axis, essentially allowing scrolling for users with a single ring-shaped device. When multiple SMI sensors are added, it will allow users to use the X, Y and Z planes enabling more gestures with the AR controller. The ring-shaped device may be able to provide haptic feedback to users and other components within itself.

Since this is only a patent, it does not warrant a similar product launch in the future. On the other hand, the Apple Glass VR headset is expected to release in 2022.

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