Apple Watch may get more hands-free tilt controls in a future watchOS update


AppleInsider may earn affiliate commissions for purchases made through links on our site.

In the future, Apple Watch may include more “Raise to Speak”-like gestures after Apple explored creating more ways speakerphone. to interact with wearable devices and other equipment.

Apple introduced Raise to Speak as part of a slew of watchOS 5 updates back in 2018. A gesture where the user raises their wrist and prepares to speak to the Apple Watch is automatically treated as an intent to speak a Siri command, all without first saying the “Hey Siri” prompt.

This gesture is useful for more than just refusing a verbal prompt, as it's a way to interact with your Apple Watch without using both hands.

Most actions still require the use of a free hand, such as touching the screen or rotating the Digital Crown, and while voice commands are also useful, their use may not be desirable when the user's hands are busy with other tasks. .

Apple received a patent for “Interaction with an electronic device through physical movement,” which describes how you can control your watch by tilting your wrist.

The concept, first filed in 2019 in a patent application, is based on the Apple Watch detecting that the user raises their wrist. This is similar to the current Raise to Speak gesture, but most of the logging details what users do after a detected raise.

By rotating the wrist or tilting the hand, the user can select one of the many different actions presented to him on the display.

While this can be used to suggest actions, it is more likely that such a system will be needed when the user needs to respond to a notification without using both hands. As an example, it is suggested to either accept or reject an incoming call on the Apple Watch.

In one interpretation, the display has a three-pointed image that works in a similar way to ball maze puzzles. One prong of the M-maze contains an indicator that can be moved to two other tracks, each representing a call answer or hang up.

An example of a simple tilting maze used to answer challenges in a proposed patent application

By rotating the wrist backwards, the user can move the indicator in the appropriate direction, then tilt to determine what operation they want to perform, and then rotate the wrist back for a certain period of time so that the indicator goes all the way to confirm the action.

On the other hand, a single path bar with two corners can provide two different responses, such as muting a call and hanging up during a call, with the duration displayed in the middle of the U-shaped path. The indicator can be held between two corners during a call, but it can be tilted and made to reach one of the ends of the path if the user needs to do one of two things.

A variant of the U-shaped trajectory with two corners in the Apple Watch tilt control patent application

The concept can also be extended to allow user calls to be answered you don't even need to see the screen.

When a call is received, Apple Watch can play a special ringtone consisting of high and low notes in a specific short sequence, potentially for a specific user. To answer a call, the user could perform a series of rotating “flick” motions corresponding to the notes of the ringtone, rolling away from the face for a high note and towards a low note.

An example of a slant and cue musical note ringtone concept from a patent application

The lift and roll mechanics can be used to select and send pre-created instant messages to contacts. Once the correct answer is highlighted, the user can hold their wrist still for a few seconds to confirm that they want to send a message.

The additional tilt mechanic can be used to answer calls by leaning towards the user and holding them in place for a few seconds to initiate a conversation, or pulling back and holding them to reject them. The same can be done by tilting the wrist forward or backward and then holding it for confirmation.

Tilt and hold can be used to answer and reject calls on your Apple Watch

Although Apple receives a lot of patents every year, their existence does not guarantee that the described concepts will be used in future products or services. However, they serve as an indication of areas in which Apple has an interest.

Also, in this particular case, either of these ideas is likely to be used, because it seems that only changes to the watchOS software would be required. Since the Apple Watch has tilt sensors and accelerometers for fitness tracking and the aforementioned Raise to Speak feature, it already has the hardware needed to implement such features should Apple choose to use them.

Gestures have also previously been considered as a way to control an unmanned vehicle, while actions performed in the designated “interaction zone” could order the vehicle to perform one of the selected maneuvers. More recently, Apple has been exploring force-sensitive gloves that could allow gestures without a touch surface or cameras monitoring the hand itself.

This is also not the first time Apple is considering using wrist gestures on the Apple Watch. Back in October 2016, one of the ideas was to add detectors to the bracelet to detect changes in wrist position and hand shape that change the load on the bracelet, rather than using tilt sensors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *