A new Apple patent suggests that the tech giant could be looking to expand its wearable portfolio. The company already offers AirPods and the Apple Watch, and is now tinkering with a system that could extend connected utility to a wide range of new devices.
The patent specifically details a “wearable loop with embedded circuitry.” In plain terms, the invention is essentially a fabric cord with a wire running through it. The cord would be fitted with a housing unit that contains additional sensors and circuitry, or even a display depending on the device.
That singular concept is flexible enough to be integrated into a number of different designs. For example, the cord could be used to make a smart bracelet or a necklace, or be woven into a key ring or a door knob hoop. The latter two seem like they could be stretching the definition of ‘wearable,’ but nevertheless illustrate the variety of potential applications.
In terms of utility, the system could be used to track someone’s location, or to gather activity and health data in a manner similar to an Apple Watch. That information could be used for biometric identification in some scenarios.
The actual features available in each device would ultimately depend on the hardware in the housing unit. A device with a display and speakers could provide audio and visual output, while others could provide haptic feedback. Some wearables could be used to send and receive messages, while others could allow wearers to interact with Augmented Reality applications. For instance, someone could use their hand to move an object that appears in an AR space, or to select an object in the same way that they would press an icon on an iPhone.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Apple will bring any of those concepts to commercial markets, though it seems likely that the company will advance at least some of these ideas based on its longstanding interest in the wearable space. Apple has already patented technology for a smart ring, and it is also working on an eye-tracking system for VR headsets. Other patents could increase the number of biometric features in future AirPod products.