An Apple smart ring could be coming soon

A concept design of an Apple smart ring, showing a screen with exercise information on it,
Jonas Daehnert / Inside-sim

It’s no secret that Apple has been eyeing smart ring technology for a while. Now, it seems the market is ripe, and Apple is ready to go beyond the patent stage. According to a report from the Electronic Times, Apple’s development process is closer to giving us a market-ready product.

“It seems likely that commercialization is imminent,” says the report, citing an insider with knowledge of the supply chain. Unfortunately, the report doesn’t say exactly when we can expect an “Apple Ring” to hit the retail shelves, but it shouldn’t be too long, given the current status of the market.

Apple smart ring with rotating parts.

Samsung has officially confirmed plans to launch its own smart ring later this year. Plus, the market is no longer exclusive to just one big name like the Oura Ring. We now have new entrants like RingConn, Ultrahuman, and Amovan — among others. But players in the market are not merely making rings that do fitness tracking.

There are also brands like Quontic and McLear that are hawking smart rings that facilitate contactless payments. Those are both areas where Apple has vested interests, especially if one looks at products with blockbuster success like Apple Fitness+ and the entire Apple Pay ecosystem.

It seems Apple has been preparing for it. All the way back in 2015, Bloomberg reported about an Apple patent for a ring with a touchscreen interface. In the following years, a few more patents emerged detailing a ring that could also be used to control other connected devices such as a Mac, Apple TV, iPad, and even VR gear.

Apple smart ring patent from 2015.

Recently, Patently Apple uncovered another smart ring patent filed in the U.S. that offered NFC and could also be technically deployed as a controller for the Vision Pro mixed reality headset. It’s worth noting here that Apple hasn’t made a physical controller for the headset, so launching a ring as a companion device would make sense. We’ve seen some concepts of what an Apple Ring could look like based on Apple’s patent history, and it looks mighty impressive.

Going by Apple’s history, it is not usually the first to a new product category. It likes to wait for the category to mature and the tech to evolve before the company makes an entry. The Apple Watch is a great example of that strategy, and it seems Apple wants to replicate it with its smartwatch endeavors.