Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,416,076) for a “finger-mounted device with sensors and haptics.” Among other things, the “Apple Glove” could be used to interact with the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/mixed reality headset.
About the patent
In the patent Apple notes that electronic equipment such as computers and head-mounted display systems are sometimes controlled using input-output devices such as gloves. A glove may have sensors that detect user hand motions. The user hand motions can be used in controlling electronic equipment.
However, the use of wearable devices to gather input for controlling electronic equipment can pose challenges. Apple says that if care isn’t taken, a device such as a glove may affect the ability of a user to feel objects in the user’s surroundings, may be uncomfortable to use, or may not gather suitable input from the user.
Apple’s idea is for a finger-mounted device that may include finger-mounted units coupled to control circuitry. The control circuitry may wirelessly transmit information gathered with the finger mounted units to an external device to control the external device.
The control circuitry may also use the finger-mounted units to provide a user’s fingers with feedback such as haptic feedback. For example, the control circuitry may supply haptic output to a user’s fingers based on wirelessly received information from the external device. The haptic output may correspond to virtual reality or augmented reality haptic output.
What’s more, Apple says the finger-mounted units may each have a body. The body serves as a support structure for components such as force sensors, accelerometers, and other sensors and for haptic output devices. During operation, a user may wear the finger mounted units on the tips of the user’s fingers while interacting with external objects.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A finger-mounted device may include finger-mounted units. The finger-mounted units may each have a body that serves as a support structure for components such as force sensors, accelerometers, and other sensors and for haptic output devices. The body may have sidewall portions coupled by a portion that rests adjacent to a user’s fingernail.
“The body may be formed from deformable material such as metal or may be formed from adjustable structures such as sliding body portions that are coupled to each other using magnetic attraction, springs, or other structures. The body of each finger-mounted unit may have a U-shaped cross-sectional profile that leaves the finger pad of each finger exposed when the body is coupled to a fingertip of a user’s finger. Control circuitry may gather finger press input, lateral finger movement input, and finger tap input using the sensors and may provide haptic output using the haptic output device.”
About Apple Glasses
When it comes to Apple Glasses, the rumors are abundant. Such a device will arrive in mid-to-late 2023. Or maybe 2024. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”