These days, when someone thinks of “fitness tracker” or “wearable tech,” the first thing you probably think of is a smartwatch like the Apple Watch Series 9. After all, it’s so wonderful; Snap it on your wrist, and you’ll not only get notifications and apps, but you’ll also get 24/7 health and fitness tracking.
But there are other ways to wear your health tech, too. One of the emerging categories is smart jewellery, especially smart rings. One of the most popular smart rings you may have heard of is the Ora Ring, which I also wear with my Apple Watch Ultra.
However, as much as I love my Ora Ring, one major drawback is that it requires a premium subscription to view any valuable information. But what if Apple entered the smart rings market?
Apple already has smart ring patents
It turns out that Apple already has some patents for “electronic ring computing devices” from around 2019, at least, if not earlier. This first patent to surface suggests that instead of just another health monitor or input device for another machine, it could be something like a mini Apple Watch, complete with a mini touch screen and haptic feedback.
However, recent patents seem to suggest other purposes for the Apple “smart ring,” which would likely be associated with Apple’s mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro. These patents include one introducing a self-mixing interferometry (SMI) sensor-based gesture input system, another that would control aspects of the user interface on multiple devices (Mac, Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Vision Pro), and one Which will deliver haptic notifications like Apple Watch at your finger.
Although the patent that Apple has currently filed is a little different from what I imagined, it is not impossible. Apple and other major tech companies spend years researching new products and may apply for patents that may never see the light of day, even if they are actively working on it.
Why an Apple Smart Ring Would Be Great?
Although Apple launched the Apple Watch in 2015, unlike other fitness trackers, it lacked sleep tracking until 2020. If you want to track your sleep with your Apple Watch, you’ll have to rely on a third-party app to do so. With watchOS 7, the Apple Watch is finally able to track your sleep without the help of a separate app.
I’m sure many people actually wear their Apple Watches to sleep. However, I can’t. With my Apple Watch Ultra; It’s too heavy to wear overnight while I’m holding my Z. When I go to bed, I like to wear something minimal, and a smart ring is perfect. This is why I rely on my Ora Ring when I sleep, although I leave it on all day – the Ora Ring can also detect when I take a nap in the middle of the day, which the Apple Watch can do too. Fails (as well as the rest of the day).
But my complaint with the Ora ring is that it more closely resembles a men’s ring, being wider and thicker than I like. I’m not a huge jewelry fan, but I definitely prefer thinner, more feminine rings like my engagement and wedding bands.
I feel like if Apple made a smart ring, it might be perfect in terms of aesthetics or style. I mean, for the Apple Watch it has a partnership with Hermès that turns the smartwatch into a fashion accessory.
Some of the patents mentioned above are not specifically meant for rings, but can also be used for jewelry such as necklaces, earrings and bracelets. While I’d personally stick to just rings, other forms of smart jewelry would be an interesting direction for Apple.
Another thing that will make the Apple smart ring attractive is that it can integrate directly with fitness or health apps, which would mean no subscription. Even though I love the data I get from Oura, requiring a subscription to access that valuable data is annoying. And if you don’t subscribe, the ring is largely worthless – despite costing a few hundred dollars initially.
Apple may change entire product categories
At this point, while it may be possible that Apple could release a smart ring at some point, it seems like it could be used for inputs like the Vision Pro or other Apple hardware. Still, if Apple makes an input-only Ring device, it may consider adding small health tracking sensors to it later.
After all, the Apple Watch wasn’t the first fitness tracker on the market, but it certainly paved the way for smartwatches. Of course, just because Apple has a patent for a new type of wearable doesn’t mean it will ever be successful.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed that maybe someday I’ll be able to buy a smart ring from Apple that will be easier to sleep with than the Apple Watch. And sometimes, well, I don’t want a screen — I just want to put it on and forget about it.