Skip to main content

Apple patent hints at better gesture control on the Apple Watch

It looks like Apple is working hard at giving users new way to control the Apple Watch. While these days the Apple Watch is largely controlled by the touchscreen, one day it may also give users extensive control through different gestures, according to a new Apple patent.

The patent, called “Motion and Gesture Input From a Wearable Device,” discusses a wearable device with a series of photodiodes that can sense light through a user’s skin. As the tissue in the wrist expands and contracts, the device can recognize patterns, and hence recognize that a user is performing a particular gesture — all without any use of a camera.

According to images in the patent, the Watch would make use of light sources and sensors on both sides of the wrist — so it might mean that special Apple Watch bands with lights and light sensors built in would need to be developed and worn.

Using this tech, Apple could track the movement of not just the user’s wrist, but also their fingers, hand, and arm — meaning a huge range of gestures could be used for controlling the Apple Watch. But the system could have implications far beyond simply controlling your device. For example, a deaf person could sign a sentence, which could then be translated to written or spoken English for someone who doesn’t understand sign language. It could also be used for better activity motion tracking.

Of course, the tech does face some hurdles. For starters, the Apple Watch already has issues with battery life — and it’s likely that constantly illuminating your wrist would draw even more battery. Because of that, we think it’s probably unlikely that Apple will deploy this tech in the consumer version of the Apple Watch any time soon.

It’s important to note that this is a continuation of patents that date back to 2015, so it’s clear that Apple has been working on the tech for a while now. As usual, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll ever see the company make use of the tech — just that it’s something Apple has been considering and developing over the past few years.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
The Apple Watch ban is over … kind of
The Apple Watch Series 9 showing apps on the screen.

The sales ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, which caused Apple to stop selling the two smartwatches late last week, has already been lifted — for now.

On December 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily lifted the sales and import ban on the two Apple Watch models. Apple stopped selling the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from its online stores on December 21 and pulled the watches from its physical retail locations on December 24.

Read more
The 6 best Apple Watch alternatives, now that it’s banned
apple watch alternatives

If you were planning to purchase the latest Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you may have to hold off for a while. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has prohibited the sale of these smartwatches until a patent dispute is resolved. On December 26, Apple pulled the wearable devices from the U.S. market. It's unclear how long this situation will last, but Apple has assured customers it's working towards a resolution.

If you're in the market for a new smartwatch and have your heart set on an Apple device, don't worry; plenty of alternatives are available, including some of the year's best ones. Companies such as Garmin, Fitbit, Withings, and even Apple offer a range of smartwatches and fitness trackers to meet your needs. These alternatives have unique features and benefits, such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and guided breathing exercises to help you stay healthy and stress-free.
Apple Watch SE 2

Read more
This $130 iPhone charger is better than Apple’s official one
Twelve South ButterFly 2-in-1 MagSafe Charger held in hand.

When you travel, less is more. This is especially true for your electronic devices, which can quickly become a mess due to all their various cables and chargers. That’s why having combo products works in your favor for these scenarios.

Twelve South has recently launched a new MagSafe charger for your iPhone, Apple Watch, and even AirPods that is super compact without compromising on charging speed. It’s the ButterFly 2-in-1 MagSafe Charger, and it’s a perfect accessory for your travel kit or bag.

Read more