|A depiction of the Apple ring from the patent application--Courtesy of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.|
A patent filing reveals that Apple ($AAPL) is developing a ring computing device. Worn on the finger, the gizmo is expected to house technology that includes biometric sensors for monitoring cardiac rhythm and perspiration.
"These sensors may be used to collect biometric data of the user, such as heart rate, temperature, motion, cardiac rhythm, perspiration and galvanic skin response, and this information may be collected and displayed by the ring computing device and/or a paired electronic device so that the user may monitor his or her health, fitness, activity or caloric energy expended," the patent application states.
The biometric data could have not just healthcare, but security applications, the application says: "In some embodiments, the collected biometric data is used to authenticate the user by comparing the collected data against a database of data signatures known for the user. Some or all of the collected biometric data may be shared with other users, personal trainers, health professionals, or other parties. In some embodiments, the ring computing device transmits the pulse of the user to another user also wearing a ring computing device, which informs the other user of the first user's pulse via visual (e.g. animation of a heart pumping) or haptic feedback."
In some cases, the new biometric data is compared to preexisting data and if there is a match--a fingerprint, for instance--other features of the ring are unlocked. Or the match could be used to unlock an external device such as a laptop or even an automobile, Apple says in the application.
AppleInsider says that many of the futuristic features mentioned in the filing are also in, or planned for, the Apple Watch. So, it may indicate Apple's more immediate intentions for the smartwatch, of course including non-healthcare-related measures, such as its use as part of a payment system.
Indeed, the company wanted to include many of the aforementioned biosensors into the Apple Watch, but they were shelved due to engineering or regulatory hurdles. The smartwatch sports a pulse monitor, and is a platform for additional apps that interact with wearables devices, such as hearing aids.
The other ideas could still arrive, but look for them in the Apple Watch (or perhaps the iPhone) before the "iRing." AppleInsider says commercialization of the gadget is unlikely.