Imaginarium

One Ring to Rule Them All

A new type of wearable to master your multimedia content with

Livingroom with a blurred hand in the foreground and TV in the background.
Edited photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

Them All

Them all being the over-the-top (OTT) media services we all know and have various feelings for (like Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube Premium, Disney+, HBO GO and others).

This is about a product I’d like to get. A product that, as far as I know, doesn’t exist. It is a possible challenge for Apple, Amazon, Google, or any other hardware-capable company out there.

Its use case is plain and simple: control the apps the above-mentioned services come with. Control them on any device they run on (either phone, tablet, laptop or TV) using common and well gestures + voice. I would also like to use it to scroll through digital books and websites when connected to a laptop.

It may come in the form of a ring, but it can be even a smart-surface that you can place anywhere.

In this imaginarium, I’ll stick to this concept in the form of a physical device shaped as a ring.

There were wearables like this built in the past: Nod ring, Ring (which turned out really bad), or similar prototypes. Their context was a bit different and it seems that none stood the test of time.

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
By Ssolbergj — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Translated, the words spoken by Gandalf in Black Speech in Book II, Chapter 2, “The Council of Elrond” mean:

“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

To Rule

Control, as mentioned above, will be done using simple gestures + voice:

  • swipe in any direction (left, right, up and down) to scroll through content or seek through timeline
  • tap to display info
  • double-tap to play/pause
  • long tap to search using voice input/wake up the device
  • cross-service content view progress sync (some movies are available from multiple providers and this small device will do that remembering for you)

Streaming apps should detect the presence of such a device and adapt the user interface accordingly.

When it comes to books and websites, providing the scrolling capability and search-through-voice should be enough.

Digital rendering of how the device may look on the index finger. A black ring with RGB LED stripes for controlling Netflix.
Edited photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

One Ring

Some random specifications of this ring:

  • wireless charging
  • bluetooth LE connection
  • single point touch-capable surface
  • microphone input
  • haptic feedback
  • RGB LED subtle light feedback
  • waterproof
  • low weight

This product will be ambidextrous and worn on the index finger. It’ll be an open-end ring and will be fit for thick fingers as well for thinner ones (one size).

One may say that this can be just an app on a smartphone. Indeed it could if we give up on the desire of having it portable and care-free. Also having it just as software on our phone would remove the possibility of controlling the scroll while reading a book on that phone without touching it.

The upside of such an approach would be obvious: lower costs of creating, maintaining, and updating the product, the comfort of not wearing another connected device around, and price.

There are nice applications that such a device can open up to:

  • the centralized tracking of view progress of media content
  • audio log entries (for audio journaling/content reviews)
  • subtle alarms and notifications

It can open up to even more use cases if we add some extra sensors, though those would make the ring a bit too bulky (and out of current scope): accelerometer, heart rate, temperature (although that should be used as a classic thermometer — hands are not the best place to measure temperature from), and others.

The product should be capable of hardware decoupling its microphone for obvious privacy reasons.

Considering the small size of the device the energy it requires to operate should be kept at a minimum to offer decent autonomy.

Wrap-up

The device I explored in this exercise of imagination is certainly doable with currently available technologies. Although it will be a bit bulky and far from the above digital rendering.

It'd benefit from better battery technology (size/capacity wise), more efficient wireless charging, and overall better (affordable) sensors.

Let me know if you'd like such a wearable.

Tha(nk|t’)s all!

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