Apple has been pondering ways to bring a camera to the Apple Watch, a newly granted patent has revealed.
In the filing made to the USPTO, Apple reveals a snapper attached to an Apple Watch band, which enables users to overcome the inherent angling issues posed by placing a lens within the body.
Instead of actually having to point the watch body at the subject, future Apple Watch owners would simply be able to hold up the strap to frame the subject and then take the image using an on-screen shutter. If they’re taking a selfie, patent drawings (below) show users able to strap the band differently in order to take a hands-free image.
The prospect of a camera within a band isn’t a new concept, with third-parties like Glide exploring the possibility in recent times. Apple has resisted the calls for a camera thus far, because it would not be able to provide a good quality experience and it would likely lead to bulking up the Apple Watch body.
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Apple Watch users can currently use the wearable as a camera trigger for the iPhone, but it appears the company is at least exploring ways to give the Apple Watch as a camera of its own.
In the filing, the company said the lack of camera could be a potential barrier to smartwatch adoption. The patent (via 9to5Mac) reads:
A potential barrier to smartwatch adoption is their minimal image-capturing ability. Some embodiments described herein include a smartwatch with the functionality of a camera that is independently positionable relative to a watch body. This can allow the smartwatch to capture images and video at angles and orientations that do not depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of the smartwatch, including the watch body. Such functionality can replace or at least meaningfully augment a user’s existing camera or camera-enabled device (e.g., smartphone, tablet). Such a wearable device that captures images and video may do so via an optical lens integrated into a distal end portion of a watch band that retains the device on a user’s wrist.
However, this doesn’t mean Apple is odds-on to release the strap on a future version of the Apple Watch. The company files dozens of patents each year, but only a fraction of the ideas make it into production.