Wearables are slowly becoming more popular, offering users features that help them perform simple tasks without having to take their phones out of their pockets. Such devices can control music, place calls, send texts, and even read the wearer's heart rate. Some of the industry's best wearables come from Samsung, such as the Galaxy Gear S3, the company's latest and greatest upcoming smartwatch. The most common wearable today takes the form of a watch or fitness band, but a new patent sketch from Samsung shows an even smaller device: a smart ring.
Samsung first filed a patent for a smart ring near the end of last year, but this is the first mock-up image of the device, finally providing an idea of what the finished product may look like. From the image, there are a few hints at what technologies the device may use. First off, there is a tiny set of volume buttons, suggesting that the ring will be able to control the volume of calls and media on a paired smartphone. Then there is a small button that looks as though it can be used to answer calls, and even a part of the device that looks like it may be able to hold a microSD card, which is a real possibility judging by the size and shape of the ring. And it is likely that, like Samsung's smartwatches, the ring will pack just about every type of hardware that can fit into it, such as motion sensors, heart rate sensors, NFC, and presumably Bluetooth to pair with a companion smartphone. If the device does include an NFC chip, this could serve to further increase the convenience of Samsung's mobile payment solution, Samsung Pay. Currently, Samsung's NFC-enabled smartwatches can be used at payment terminals in place of tapping a smartphone against credit card readers, but with a ring capable of making mobile payments, paying for goods in stores could be as simple as waving your hand over the reader.
The patent image does not provide much info on what types of technology will power the device, how it will work, or what features it will offer, so it's all speculation at this point. There is no information available to suggest a timeframe for when the device will be finished or an expected release date. The product is still in early development, so more information will become available as time goes by. Wearable technology continues to evolve and take on new form factors. Smart rings are a relatively new concept, so there are likely many possible uses for them that haven't even been thought of yet. It will be interesting to see the different ways this technology can be used to make our lives easier.