Apple may make smart necklaces, bracelets, and key rings

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Apple already uses the term "wearables" to cover the Apple Watch and AirPods, but now it could be looking to expand into many more items from key rings and door knob hoops, to bracelets and necklaces.

Apple has long been rumored to be researching smart rings, but a newly-revealed patent shows it could have designs on many more wearables.

"Wearable loops with embedded circuitry," is concerned with how "an electronic device... may have a fabric cord and a housing unit."

It's really one idea with very many applications, and all of them are to do with the ability to wear a device — or to have it small enough to become something like a key ring.

"Electronic devices may be worn on a user's body or may be attached to an object," says the patent. "For example, an electronic device may have a loop, band, or string-like shape that can be looped around, tied to, hung on, or otherwise attached to a person, animal, or object."

"Electronic devices may be worn on a user's wrist or neck..." it continues, "[and] may be used to gather information about the person or object that the electronic device is attached to."

Apple says that could mean "location information, activity information, identification information, medical or biometric information," and more. Plus the same device "may be used to provide a user with output (haptic output, audio output, and/or visual output)."

It could also "store identification information about the person or object," or "store messages for a user." And it "may be used as an anchor or visual marker in an augmented reality or virtual reality system."

In each case, the device itself is expected to be small. Apple's patent concentrates more on how the device could be attached, and refers, amongst other options, to how they "may include magnetic structures such as magnetic linkages that furl and unfurl under an appropriate electromagnetic field."

Over almost 15,000 words, Apple keeps finding new possible uses — and then still falls back on the standard patent line of how it could cover even more types of device.

But this is not meant to be for some passive device, or something with a single function like marking a user's position in an Apple AR setting. Certainly it can do that, but it can also be part of a system that lets users interact with AR objects.

Apple Key ring
Apple Key ring

"As an example, a user may make an air gesture such as a left hand wave to move visual content to the left," says Apple. "As another example, a user may select a visual element in the user's field of view by tapping on that element."

This patent is credited to Paul G. Puskarich. His previous work for Apple includes a patent regarding earphones able to detect when they are being worn.