Yesterday Apple was granted 42 patents covering advanced Finger Devices with advanced sensors for HMD Gaming & much more
Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 42 newly granted utility patents for Apple Inc. In this particular report we briefly cover possible future finger devices. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple this week.
While the Apple Vision Pro uses advanced eye tracking and cameras to pick up on a user's simple in-air finger gestures, acting as a form of in-air mouse, finger devices could bring a completely higher range of features and sensors that are simply mind boggling.
Some sensors will allow a user to better enjoy gaming on an HMD for instance, by allowing the user to touch 3D objects and actually feel textures.
Finger Devices with Adjustable Housing Structures
Patently Apple has covered many patents relating to smart finger devices, which could include smart rings, since 2019 (01, 02, 03, 04 and more). Yesterday Apple was granted yet another finger device patent that focuses on adjustable hosing structures.
More specifically, Apple's granted patent covers a system that may include a finger device that is worn on a user's finger. The finger device has sensor circuitry in a housing. The sensor circuitry may include a strain gauge, accelerometer, displacement sensor, and/or other sensor circuitry to detect finger input as the housing is moved by the finger. Wireless communications circuitry may be used to supply the finger input to other devices in the system such as a head-mounted device or other electronic device. During operation, finger input may be used to manipulate content displayed by the head-mounted device or other equipment in the system.
The finger device housing may include an upper housing portion that extends across a top of the finger and first and second side housing portions that extend down respective first and second sides of the finger. One or more sensors (e.g., a force sensor, displacement sensor, etc.) may be located in the side housing portions and may be configured to measure movements of the sides of the finger as the finger contacts an external surface and makes other finger movements.
To ensure that the sensors are appropriately positioned relative to the sides of the finger, one or more adjustable structures may be used to adjust the position of the first and second side housing portions relative to the upper housing portion. The adjustable structures may include an elastomeric band, a drawstring, a ratchet mechanism, a scissor mechanism, and/or other adjustable structures that allow the position of the side housing portions and associated sensors to be adjusted.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates where the finger device is to reside on a user; FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative finger device on the finger of a user; FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an illustrative finger device with a hinge; FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative finger device with adjustable housing; and FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an illustrative finger device with adjustable housing structures including an elastomeric band.
One or more finger devices may gather user input from a user. The user may use finger devices in operating electronic devices. For example, a finger device may be used as a controller for a virtual reality or mixed reality device (e.g., head-mounted equipment such as glasses, goggles, a helmet, or other device with a display). During operation, the finger devices may gather user input such as information on interactions between the finger device(s) and the surrounding environment (e.g., interactions between a user's fingers and the environment, including finger motions and other interactions associated with virtual content displayed for a user). The user input may be used in controlling visual output on the display.
The Finger devices will provide haptic output to the user's fingers using the finger devices to provide the fingers of a user with a desired texture sensation as a user is touching a real object or as a user is touching a virtual object. Haptic output can also be used to create detents and other haptic effects.
To enhance the sensitivity of a user's touch as the user interacts with surrounding objects, finger devices may have inverted U shapes or other configurations that allow the finger devices to be worn over the top and sides of a user's finger tips while leaving the user's finger pads exposed.
Sensors, Sensors and more Sensors
Apple's finger devices could contain a plethora of various sensors, Apple's list of possible sensor for their finger devices is mind boggling, as follows;
The sensors may include force sensors (e.g., strain gauges, capacitive force sensors, resistive force sensors, etc.), audio sensors such as microphones, touch and/or proximity sensors such as capacitive sensors (e.g., two-dimensional touch sensors), optical sensors such as optical sensors that emit and detect light, ultrasonic sensors, and/or other touch sensors and/or proximity sensors, monochromatic and color ambient light sensors, image sensors, fingerprint sensors, temperature sensors, sensors for measuring three-dimensional non-contact gestures (“air gestures”), pressure sensors, sensors for detecting position, orientation, and/or motion (e.g., accelerometers, magnetic sensors such as compass sensors, gyroscopes, and/or inertial measurement units that contain some or all of these sensors), health sensors such as sensors for measuring blood oxygen content and heart rates sensors, radio-frequency sensors (e.g., sensors that gather position information, three-dimensional radio-frequency images, and/or other information using radar principals or other radio-frequency sensing, sensors that detect position, orientation, and/or motion relative to other objects using Bluetooth positioning techniques or using Ultra-wideband positioning techniques), muscle activity sensors (EMG) for detecting finger actions, optical sensors such as self-mixing sensors and light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors that gather time-of-flight measurements, optical sensors such as visual odometry sensors that gather position and/or orientation information using images gathered with digital image sensors in cameras, gaze tracking sensors, visible light and/or infrared cameras having digital image sensors, humidity sensors, moisture sensors, three-dimensional sensors (e.g., time-of-flight image sensors, pairs of two-dimensional image sensors that gather three-dimensional images using binocular vision, three-dimensional structured light sensors that emit an array of infrared light beams or other structured light using arrays of lasers or other light emitters and associated optical components and that capture images of the spots created as the beams illuminate target objects, and/or other three-dimensional image sensors), facial recognition sensors based on three-dimensional image sensors, and/or other sensors, gas sensors, and/or other sensors.
Lastly Apple notes that these finger devices could act as a remote control for a future version of Apple TV or work with other devices like Apple Watch, Macs, automobile applications, an iPhone, iPad and more.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11709554.
This Week's Remaining Granted Patents