A new Smart Ring patent from Google hints of using their Soli Radar technology to control mobile devices with Hand Gestures
On August 16, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Google Joins the Race with Apple, Microsoft and Samsung to bring a Viable Smart Ring to Market after Amazon's Echo Loop Failed." One week later and Google has been granted yet another wearables patent covering both a smart ring and smartglasses.
In this second granted patent, Google notes that their ring will be able to harvest energy, and perhaps more importantly, detect hand gestures using a sensor unit which would be included under component area #130 of patent FIG. 10B illustrated below.
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Why is hand gesturing important to this smart ring? Google introduced Soli Radar and motion sensing to the Pixel 4 but dropped in the Pixel 5. Google's SVP Devices and Services Rick Osterloh told The Verge in September 2020, that Project Soli radar and gestures would return in the future, that they were just too expensive for the phone that Google wanted to build in 2020.
Shifting Soli Radar to a smart ring would be one way to get around adding the technology to the phone directly. This way if user's wanting this feature, could have it via an added wearable device.
Google's granted patent is a 'utility patent' and not a design patent. Google makes it clear that the ring could take on any number of final designs. The patent figures above only represents a concept.
Google's granted patent also covered smartglasses as noted in the patent figures below. Google notes that "There is a need in the art for means to successfully integrate electronic components into smaller frames in order to achieve the inconspicuous form factor and fashion appeal expected of the eyeglass frame industry while still maintaining a high display quality."
The original Google Glass device was conspicuous which made user's a target for those protesting this kind device that could inconspicuously film their surroundings and people without permission.
Google's patent FIG. 11 below is a perspective view of an exemplary implementation of a glasses frame formed; FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an exemplary implementation of a first arm of a glasses frame; FIG. 13A is a perspective view of an alternative exemplary implementation of a glasses frame formed.
Google's granted patent 11,099,604 was issued on August 24, 2021. For those wishing to dive deeper into the details of Google's patent, click here.
Without a doubt, smartglasses is going to be next consumer device battle ground. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Samsung and Chinese OEMs are patenting and planning to participate in this wearable category.
Smart rings may be another consumer device that many OEMs are working on, but has less appeal due to the limited range of features of such a smart device. Smart rings could end up being a form of mobile mouse for Smartglasses and Google's Soli radar may provide their ring with an advantage.
With that said, Apple is on record with the widest range of possible uses for smart rings as noted in the list of Apple patent reports presented below. Apple's counter punch to Soli radar is in the use of self-mixing interferometry (SMI) sensors as described in the first patent presented below.
Apple Smart Ring Patents
Below is a list of Apple patent reports (applications and granted) covering the use of future Smart Rings:
01: Apple Introduces a new kind of Smart Ring System to be used Primarily in Context with AR, VR and MR Applications
02: Apple Wins their Second Patent for an Apple Ring focused on using it for hand gestures to control a Secondary Device
03: Apple has won its First Smart Ring Patent with Biometrics, Touch Pad & Siri to Control devices including a TV
04: Apple Wins Patent for a Ring Accessory to Control Content presented on Future Virtual Reality Glasses & Headset
05: Apple wins a Patent for a series of possible future Handheld & Finger Device Accessory Controllers for a VR Headset and/or Glasses
06: Apple Invents an SMI Ring that Senses Physiological Conditions such as Heart Rate, Oxygen Saturation & more
07: Apple reveals future smart ring designs like a multi-ring system & rings that work with Apple Watch to control on-screen content
Relatively new brands are emerging with smart ring products that show different applications. One day an Apple ring could work with Apple Pay in retail stores and in transit stations as just two additional applications for those who don't want an Apple Watch.
A video from Top10Zone presents 10 smart ring companies with products now on market offering different features that major US tech companies are bound to adopt in one form or another in the not-too-distant future.