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Is Apple's Smart Ring a future nobody asked for?

Apple ring
(Image credit: Apple)

Wearable tech is a hit and miss game, as has been shown by the fact no-one has quite managed to make eyewear happen (yet). But what about a ring? Apple seems to think it'll work, as the tech giant has been applying for continuation patents to its initial 2015 smart ring patent, which hint at a range of features that, frankly, we're not sure anyone actually asked for. 

Tech enthusiasts may remember that Amazon released the Echo Loop ring last year, which is essentially a way to interact with Alexa on-the-go. It was a bold move (even if we don't know anyone who actually has one as it's still only available by invitation-only), and Apple takes the concept one step further. Does the smart ring have the potential to be included in a future iPad accessories roundup?

Apple smart ring

Apple's original 2015 patent (Image credit: Apple/USPTO)

The most recent patent changes the name of the ring from a 'wearable ring device' to a 'wireless finger-worn device' and suggests it would be used to control external devices, like smart TVs or iPhones. Instead of being voice activated (like the Echo Loop ring), the ring would have a touch-sensitive display component, and could be gesture-activated, too. Past patents have suggested it could also be expandable so the display stretches to fit over most of your finger (see below).

Apple smart ring

One of the continuation patent's features: the ring would be expandable (Image credit: Apple/USPTO)

"Although the continuation patent doesn't necessarily introduce any significant new capabilities to the ring," says AppleInsider, "it does appear to be aimed at protecting the concept of an "Apple Ring" in a market that's very different than it was when Apple first started exploring a finger-worn wearable." 

Maybe Apple has more up its sleeve, but right now we can't help but feel the smart ring is an unnecessary addition to the tech accessories market (though we admit, it would feel super-powerful to swipe the air and turn the TV down). We certainly have questions about how comfortable the expandable ring would be to wear and wonder how it would be preferable to wear one instead of the Apple Watch, if they have basically the same functions. 

Though, we were taken by surprise recently when an Apple Glass concept brought a frisson of excitement, so it's possible that all it'll take is some slick Apple branding to change our minds. But even that may be a stretch.

For wearable tech that has taken off, see the best Apple Watch deals here, and below.

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