January 29, 2023

This week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent for a finger sensor device that would provide accurate hand feedback, allowing users to manipulate what they see on the head display using 3D in-air gestures and more.

Apple has filed a new patent for a finger-mounted device that is a bit like a glove that could be used for gesture control, using in-air finger gestures to support Apple’s future MR devices and, in some cases, provide haptic feedback.

Apple’s invention covers a finger-mounting device that may include a finger-mounting unit coupled to a control circuit. The control circuit can wirelessly transmit the information collected with the finger-mounted unit to the external device to control the external device.

Apple wins fingertip tracking patent: VR operation with finger gestures in the air

The control circuit may also provide feedback, such as haptic feedback, to the user’s fingers using the finger-mounted unit.

For example, the control circuit may provide tactile output to the user’s finger based on information wirelessly received from an external device. The haptic output may correspond to the haptic output of VR virtual reality or AR augmented reality.

Apple wins fingertip tracking patent: VR operation with finger gestures in the air

Finger-mounted units can each have a body. The body acts as a support structure for components such as force sensors, accelerometers, and other sensors, as well as tactile output devices. During operation, the user can wear the finger-mounted unit on the tip of the user’s finger while interacting with external objects.

Apple wins fingertip tracking patent: VR operation with finger gestures in the air

The body of each finger-mounted unit may have a U-shaped cross-sectional profile, with the finger pad of each finger exposed when the body meets the tip of a user’s finger. The control circuit can collect the finger pressing input, the finger lateral movement input and the finger click input using the sensor, and can provide the tactile output using the tactile output device.

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Apple’s designs are primarily intended for use in VR and AR environments, but can be used in other contexts as well.