Apple looks into durable hinge for an ‘Apple Ring,’ other devices

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20210011524) for “Electronic Devices With Fiber Composite Friction Hinges” that shows it’s still investigating the possibility of an “Apple Ring.” 

The tech in the patent filing could also involve a foldable iPhone or iPad, as well as (non-foldable) Mac laptops; however, the patent filing data consistently mentions expandable “smart rings.” The goal is to make the hinges in any such devices more durable.

An Apple Ring would likely pack force sensors, ultrasonic sensors, inertial measurement units, optical sensors, touch sensors, and other components to gather input from a user. During operation, haptic output can be provided to the finger of a user using a haptic output device in the housing. The Apple Ring could be used to control other Apple devices, specifically the rumored “Apple Glasses,” a head-mounted display (HDM) for augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality uses.

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “An electronic device may have a fiber composite friction hinge with first and second members that rotate relative to each other about a hinge axis. The fiber composite hinge may have first and second sets of interdigitated elongated fingers. Holes in the elongated fingers may receive a shaft of a fastener. The fastener may be tightened to squeeze the elongated fingers together along the hinge axis. 

The fiber composite hinge may be formed from a fiber composite material such as carbon fiber composite material. Fibers in the composite material may be embedded in binder such as polymer binder. The fibers may wrap around the holes and fold back on themselves in the fingers. Actuators may be provided to adjust the positions of portions of the hinge members. The electronic device may have a flexible layer such as a flexible display that overlaps the hinge structure.”