The company's concept describes a smart ring with two sensors and a controller. The first sensor detects the movements of a primary finger, and the second the one adjacent to it. Meanwhile, the controller would enable multi-finger gestures by calculating the relative movement between the first and second finger.
With this ability, users would be able to control a secondary device, like a monitor, phone, or watch. It could also combine with devices like the HoloLens to enable augmented reality control. Microsoft provides drawings of several possible gestures, including moving the thumb left, right, up, and down while in a fist.
With such a device, Microsoft could provide a gesture control system without the traditional drawbacks. It would cut down instances of fatigue while ensuring you don't accidentally hit someone in the face, Wii remote style.
The Rise of Smart Ring Wearables
Such a device could build on the current trend towards ring-based fitness trackers. Celebrities, including the UK's Prince Harry, have been seen wearing products like Oura. The company's ring tracks metrics like sleep, heart rate, and body temperature in a small form factor.
Currently, though, the products are relatively expensive. The Oura comes in at $357, almost the price of a Surface Go. The Motiv ring is $252, which still feels high for such limited functionality.
Still, Microsoft's idea could be a good bet for the future. As usual, there's no guarantee the patent will make it to market, in fact, it's unlikely. However, it could inspire products down the line should the company want to expand its Surface line even further.
You can view the patent for yourself on WIPO.