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.

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