According to a patent application recently discovered by LetsGoDigital, Samsung Electronics still seems to have an interest in developing a smart ring designed to offer an alternative input method for other connected smart devices. The recent patent application describes a wearable device for the index finger, capable of detecting hand movement and gestures with the help of a 9-axis sensor, enabling for a variety of familiar inputs including basic movements like swipe, as well as pinch to zoom or stretch, and turn to rotate.
In addition to the motion sensor, Samsung's smart ring, as described in the patent application, also features a total of twelve touch sensitive areas, which would technically allow for finer inputs. The application also describes a number or real-life applications for the smart ring, such as connecting the wearable to IoT devices including smart lights and security cameras. In theory, the device could also be used to control music playback devices, TV sets, and act as an input method for virtual reality headsets such as Samsung's own Gear VR devices. For the latter application, multiple rings could be used simultaneously and for both hands. The benefits of a 9-axis sensor would shine in the VR space, as it would technically allow the VR application to render the user's fingers in the virtual world in real time, thus contributing to higher immersion and better control over virtual objects.
Although the patent application at hand was submitted in February and published by the World Intellectual Property Organization as recently as last week, it's worth noting that this is not Samsung Electronics' first patent to describe a wearable smart ring. The OEM's apparent intentions to develop a smart ring emerged back in 2015 through a patent application describing a method for controlling smartphones using this type of device. The initial patent application didn't reveal much about the ring itself, but one of Samsung's designs emerged a year later in 2016, describing a smart ring equipped with physical volume buttons and other sensors. Interestingly enough, Samsung's latest vision for a smart ring seems to have evolved considerably over the past couple of years, as the new design doesn't seem to have any physical buttons and instead relies solely on touch and motion sensors. Nevertheless, the most important factor when creating a smart ring is its size, and it's unlikely for Samsung to launch a product in this category unless the device is comfortable enough for everyday use. Even so, as with any other patents, there's no guarantee that the recent patent application will translate into a real product in the foreseeable future.