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Apple smart ring, glasses, camera-equipped AirPods rumored in wearables push

Oura Smart Ring

Apple has been deeply investing into wearables for years, and a report about smart glasses, Apple Ring, and AirPods details what the future might hold.

Apple already sells a number of wearable devices to consumers, including its Apple Watch range and various models of AirPods. But, much like any other tech company in existence, it believes that it can do more with its products.

In Sunday's "Power On" newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman asserts that Apple is coming up with ideas for wearable devices it could bring out in the future. Some of which has already been proposed in numerous patent filings over the years.

A big offering could be smart glasses that have been referred to as Apple Glass, which is widely thought to be in Apples' future considering the existence of the Apple Vision Pro. Gurman writes that the glasses could offer smart audio features, as well as some AI-related ones, rather than the expected full augmented reality experience.

A second item is a smart ring, which has been raised repeatedly in rumors and patent filings. According to Gurman, the ring will offer health-tracking functionality, much like an Apple Watch, but without needing to actually wear Apple's larger wearable.

Along with smart glasses, Gurman also raises the possibility of adding a set of cameras to AirPods. This is thought to be more likely to be on the way compared to the other proposed ideas.

Apple has allegedly started a project codenamed B798 in 2023, with the aim of adding low-resolution cameras to the AirPods.

For Apple, the cameras could provide the same sort of effect as attaching cameras to smart glasses, except without the facial furniture. The cameras could feed data into an AI, which can then help the user in everyday life.

Apple naturally has also explored the potential of other sensors inside the AirPpods, including biometric sensors for health tracking.

Gurman doesn't offer a timescale for the potential wearables, but AppleInsider has repeatedly reported on patents in similar fields for years. This at least demonstrates that Apple is thinking about the ideas, if not necessarily guaranteeing their release.

Apple Ring rumors and research go back at least nine years

The patent reporting does illustrate that Apple has pondered the utility of smart rings for a considerable amount of time. One fairly dated possibility is an application that surfaced in October 2015, showing Apple has at least thought about it for close to a decade.

That filing, for "Devices and methods for a ring computing device" basically describes a miniature Apple Watch worn on a finger. While miniature in size, the device is still shown with a miniature touch-enabled display, as well as many elements that feature in the Apple Watch itself.

Indeed, Apple was keen enough on the idea of a miniature Apple Watch on a finger that it made a continuation filing that was granted in 2019 on the same idea.

An Apple smart ring concept from a patent application in 2015 [USPTO]
An Apple smart ring concept from a patent application in 2015 [USPTO]

The list of capabilities proposed in the 2015 filing includes heart rate monitoring, and inductive charging, Force Touch, the Taptic Engine for haptic feedback, and an accelerometer and gyroscope for gesture input. These latter two also proposed the possibility of handwriting recognition.

Back at this time, the use of voice control was also proposed, as well as communications over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, among other elements. There was also a lot of discussion about using the ring to control other hardware.

The filing certainly wasn't the earliest reference to an Apple Ring, with concepts surfacing in 2007 and murmurs from an Apple supplier tour in 2013 predating the patent filing. But the application does at least give concrete proof that Apple did explore the concept.