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Pixel Watch: A patent from Google emerges with a strange party trick

For years, it has been assumed that it’s only a matter of time before Google unveils its own smartwatch. And now we have clear evidence that the company was – and maybe still is – planning a most unusual wearable, with a focus on something other manufacturers have ignored.

A patent was published on Tuesday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office showing a “Camera Watch,” and immediately spotted by LetsGoDigital. As you can see from the sketches above, the camera really does sit front and centre – sat right in the middle of the watch face, like HAL 9000’s red circle in 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

Although it’s hard to tell from the images, the site speculates that the edge of the device may rotate, allowing you to select items like on the Samsung Galaxy Watch, in lieu of a digital crown.   

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While this wouldn’t be the first smartwatch to have a camera built in – the long discontinued Galaxy Gear 2 had one – it would be the first to make it a key selling point. And given Google’s fine heritage of photography in the Pixel series, it could be compelling for some – if the company can adequately explain why anyone would need a top camera on their wrist in the first place.

Then again, there are reasons you should still take this with a pinch of salt, even if the source is a Google patent. Firstly, companies patent all kinds of things that never see the light of day. Pop “Google” into the company’s own patent search tool and you find 220 results in this year alone, added to the pile of over 57,000 in total

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Secondly, this particular patent was actually filed back in 2017, and a lot can change in two years – especially for something as contentious as a camera. Lest we forget, Google has already had privacy headaches this year, having to apologise for putting a microphone in a Nest product without mentioning it, and some people may feel understandably queasy at the thought of having a camera on their wrist at all times.

That said, Google plainly still has an interest in wearables. Back in January, the company bought some of the intellectual property behind Fossil smartwatches, and in 2018, it would only say that a Pixel Watch wouldn’t be coming that year. Could 2019 still be possible?     

Would you buy a Pixel Watch, or are you happy with the non-Google alternatives? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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