Last month, Amazon revealed a host of new Alexa-powered products, including the Echo Loop, a smart ring that puts the abilities of Alexa onto your finger. It’s not a full consumer product yet, only accessible via an invite from Amazon itself, but it shows a willingness to try new formats for digital assistants. It now looks like Apple, with its own digital assistant Siri, wants to make something similar, according to a newly discovered patent.
In a patent published on October 15 and spotted by Tech Radar and VentureBeat, the functionality of the ‘Apple Ring’ is similar to that of the Apple Watch, featuring biometric sensors to give you health and fitness information and synchronizing with an iPhone or similar device, and to the Echo Loop, operating mainly via voice commands. However, the ring would also be usable with motion gestures, letting users wave their hand or even detecting writing. The patent also suggests the ring could be used to control other Apple products, by swiping on the tiny built-in display.
There are some who are not convinced by the Echo Loop. The technology is strange to wear and use, and has limitations like a short battery life, a large size and limited water resistance. It feels like a product aimed at Alexa power users, which would explain the limited early release. The Apple patent does go some way to addressing the battery issue by suggesting many peculiar charging methods, including one mounted on a car steering wheel or a computer mouse.
Of course, the usual patent caveats apply - this may be a future Apple product, but its release could be years away, if Apple decides to release a product like this at all. Given that this patent dates back to 2015 in some places, Apple’s clearly giving this ring wearable a fair consideration, but even that length of time can’t guarantee any future possibilities for the product.