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Apple has lodged a patent application for a "finger-ring-mounted touchscreen"
Apple has lodged a patent application for a "finger-ring-mounted touchscreen"
 









Apple ‘smart’ ring in the works?

Apple has lodged a patent application for a ‘smart’ ring, spurring speculation that the technology giant is making another attempt to put its mark on the wearable technology sector.

An application by Apple to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a “ring computing device” outlined that the use of touchpads and touchscreen displays could be “cumbersome, inconvenient, or inefficient for certain tasks and applications”.

“A need therefore exists for a more discreet, safer, more efficient, or more ergonomic way to interact with touchpads or touchscreens,” the document continued.

The product described in the application was for a user-controlled “finger-ring-mounted touchscreen” that could include features such as sensors and microphones to allow a user to interact with electronic devices – like the television or lights in a car – through finger gestures and voice commands.

In addition, the user would be able to receive information in the form of messages and images on a touch-sensitive display and gain feedback in the form of sounds, pulses and vibrations.

The application claimed the product would be “smaller, more portable and less obtrusive than existing devices”.

The news follows the highly anticipated launch of the Apple Watch in April this year, which was the technology giant’s first venture into the wearable technology market.

The Apple Watch was seen as a threat by some in the jewellery industry
The Apple Watch was seen as a threat by some in the jewellery industry

The news follows the highly anticipated launch of the Apple Watch in April this year, which was the technology giant’s first venture into the wearable technology market.

Threats and opportunities

Although media reports acknowledged that the patent application did not necessarily mean a smart ring was in production – many of Apple’s patents do not eventuate into recognisable products – it’s nevertheless a sign that the company is considering the concept and raises the question of how it could potentially impact the jewellery industry.

The same issue was tabled in the lead-up to the release of the Apple Watch.

Concerns that the smartwatch would take sales from traditional watch and jewellery retailers were arguably heightened by reports that Apple intended to market its device as ‘Swiss-made’ and that the company would adopt similar product display techniques used in the jewellery industry.

Interestingly, upon the release of its third quarter results in July, Apple was vague about how the Apple Watch had performed. This led media to suggest the smartwatch had failed to meet the company’s expectations, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s claims to the contrary.

While the advent of an Apple smartwatch was viewed by some as a potential threat, one might wonder whether the possibility of a smart ring could present an opportunity in the form of retail distribution prospects or design collaborations.

Ringly looks like a
Ringly looks like a 'normal' ring

While the advent of an Apple smartwatch was viewed by some as a potential threat, one might wonder whether the possibility of a smart ring could present an opportunity in the form of retail distribution prospects or design collaborations.

It would not be the first time Apple has looked to creative industry specialists for aesthetic advice; in 2013, Apple hired Paul Deneve, former CEO of fashion company Yves Saint Laurent, and last year appointed Australian-born industrial designer Marc Newson.

If Apple’s version of a smart ring comes to fruition, it would join a number of similar products available in the market that are blurring the line of what is and what isn’t considered jewellery.

Ringly, for example, looks like a ‘normal’ ring but has the ability to connect to a phone and sends the user customised notifications, while the Smarty Ring, which also works in tandem with a smartphone, allows the wearer to make phone calls, read text messages and control music, among other functions.

More reading
Apple remains mum amid poor watch sale rumours
Jury is out on Apple Watch
Apple learns from jewellery stores
Swatch ‘yes’ and Apple ‘maybe’ on smartwatches










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Friday, 23 August, 2019 12:04pm
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