large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Apple has explored adding camera to Apple Watch Digital Crown

Apple is continuing to explore ways to add a camera to the Apple Watch, according to a newly unveiled patent filing.

Rumours have circulated for years about whether Apple would add a camera sensor to its smartwatch, while observers like us have often pointed out that it would be unfeasible from Apple’s perspective.

Fears over adding girth to the device (or a specially-made band) and the resulting quality of such a sensor, have made official accessories appear unlikely. However, it has emerged. Apple has been working on a way to make that seem more feasible, for quite a number of years.

The patent filing from 2018 (unearthed by Patently Apple) explains that Apple is exploring placing a camera sensor within the Digital Crown – the rotatable dial and button used for navigating the user interface and taking ECG readings.

Apple-Watch-Camera-Patent

Users would be able to point their wrist as a target with the watch face acting as the viewfinder. There’d also be room for a light/flash to illuminate the scene according to the patent filing.

It reads: “A watch having a camera is disclosed. The watch can include a housing having a front side, a back side, and an attachment interface configured to couple to a watch band. A camera can be mounted to the housing and configured to capture a picture of a scene through the back side of the housing. A display can be visible through the front side of the housing and configured to display the picture.”

It also appears Apple is considering the potential privacy implications of such a move, because no-one would want a situation where users are serendipitously taking photos with their watches. In the patent Apple explains users may need to take off the watch in order to use it as a camera, because it would be loaded on the back of the device.

It writes: “Additionally or alternatively…a camera can be implemented as a back-facing camera configured capture pictures through a back side of a watch housing. Although the wrist may occlude the camera from taking pictures of a scene when the watch housing is worn on the wrist, the housing may be removable from the wrist via a release mechanism in the attachment interface, or by removing the housing together with the watch band, to capture pictures with the back-facing camera.”

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.