Image source: Apple

Flexing innovation: Apple’s pursuit of gesture-sensing watch bands

The Apple Watch on your wrist may soon have the ability to detect and understand what you are doing with your hands. The company’s potential plans for its smartwatches are shown in a patent that came out yesterday. One of those plans might involve gesture control.

Interpreting wrist actions

The paperwork was submitted to the US Patent Office. Published on April 6th, it goes under the moniker US2023/0105223. The filing describes in detail how this technology could work. It essentially tracks the natural response of the wrist in relation to various hand movements.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

When the user moves their hand, the muscles and tendons in their wrist shift, which results in the production of electrical impulses. These electrical impulses can be monitored and analysed by integrating electrodes inside the watch band, rather than the watch itself. This would allow for greater accuracy. The patent describes a number of different actions that are conceivably capable of being identified, including wrist rotation, lateral waving motions, and palm movements.

Apple Watch gesture patent

Enhanced gesture recognition: A key to expanded capabilities

As detailed in a report by AppleInsider, Apple watches already come equipped with certain accessibility features that provide this type of functionality. These are meant for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities, but can be used by everyone. The technology primarily harnesses the capabilities of the device’s built-in gyroscope and accelerometer. By combining this data with insights from the optical heart rate sensor, the watch is able to discern subtle variations in muscle movements and tendon activities.

For example, pinching or clenching the hands can be used to perform certain functions. On the watch’s display, you can choose to use a small cursor for more complicated tasks. Users can manage incoming calls, access notifications, control the centre, and more—all without physically interacting with the screen.

Apple attributes the effectiveness of this technology to the integration of on-device machine learning. But the company has the opportunity to greatly enhance this type of functionality if it works to improve its capabilities in the area of gesture detection. And integrating certain sensors into the band might be the way forward.

Pushing boundaries

In recent years, Apple’s smartwatches have come a long way. They now have sensors that can track things such as blood oxygen levels and heart rate variability, among other things. Still, it is not easy to make a flexible band that can add more tracking features.

The gesture technology may also allow for more detailed tracking of the body’s movements, which could lead to new ways of keeping track of exercise and health. It’s possible that accurate data from flexed arm positions could be used to get more exact workout measurements.

If the technology is sensitive enough, Apple wearables might even be able to control other devices. This would let them do things like play games or look through the choices on Apple TV.

It is important to remember that planning and making these new wristbands could take a long time, and the goods might not even make it to the market. Even so, the idea of watch bands that can sense gestures could be an exciting step forward in the development of the Apple Watch.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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