The Rise of the Smart Ring: Where is Apple’s?

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The era of the smart ring is upon us, with several major announcements made in January alone. The Amazift Helio was unveiled at CES 2024, followed by the Movano Evie ring, which focuses on female health. Samsung has also confirmed the release of the Galaxy Ring at Samsung Unpacked. Additionally, there are rumors of an update to the popular Oura Ring for health and fitness tracking. With the projected growth of smart ring sales in the next eight years, it is expected that more tech brands will enter the market. This raises the question: where is Apple’s smart ring?

Apple has been exploring the idea of a non-wrist-based wearable for some time and has filed numerous patents related to smart ring technology. In 2020, it was speculated that an Apple smart ring could complement the iPhone based on these patents. Later, there were discussions on how an Apple smart ring could interact with an immersive headset like Apple Vision Pro. Recent patent filings suggest that Apple may be working on a expandable ring-like device that can be worn on different body parts.

However, aside from these patents, there is little concrete evidence of an impending Apple smart ring. It is common for large corporations to file patents for technologies that may never make it into a product. In fact, IP licensing can be more profitable than manufacturing and marketing products.

It is possible that other factors are diverting the attention of Apple’s wearables team from developing a smart ring. The company has been embroiled in a long legal battle with Masimo over alleged theft of blood oxygen sensor technology. This legal dispute has become a distraction for Apple, particularly as the outcome does not look favorable for the company. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 devices will be removed from US stores due to the dispute. Apple is working to release updated models with the disputed feature disabled.

While Apple faces legal challenges, other brands like Samsung are quickly meeting the growing demand for new health-focused wearable technologies. Smart rings are gaining popularity due to their simplicity, comfort, and discreetness. Although the smartwatch era has been prominent for over a decade, the smart ring market is just starting to emerge. This holiday shopping season, we can expect to see many smart rings available, but Apple will likely be absent.

Apple may have pioneered the smartwatch era with the launch of the original Apple Watch in 2015, but it now risks falling behind in the rapidly growing health-focused wearables market.

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