The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently granted an Apple patent entitled “Watch with a camera” for adding a camera to future Apple Watch models.
In the patent, the Cupertino giant describes ways to embed a camera in the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown into the smartwatch’s flexible wristband. The strap is said to be made of flexible materials, allowing the user to bend or twist when aiming the camera. The lens itself would pivot on the end of the strap for complete flexibility.
The patent describes Apple’s concept, including several drawings of how the camera might be placed on the end of the wristband.
The watch may contain a case with a front, a back and a mounting interface configured to mate with a watch band. A camera can be mounted on the case and configured to capture a photo of a scene from the back of the housing. A display can be seen through the front of the housing and configured to display the image,” the patent reads.
The above means that the user can take a photo of a scene through the back with the watch case removed or detached from the band. The patent says Apple has built a new release mechanism that allows users to detach the watch case from the band, allowing the user to perfectly position the camera.
The new patent for a camera built into the Digital Crown may include a rotating dial for digital input and for capturing images through an opening that extends through the dial.
“A lens can be integrated into the aperture and/or behind the aperture of the dial to focus an image of a scene. An image sensor located behind the opening can be further configured to detect movement of a marker on the dial, allowing the image sensor to function both as a camera for capturing images of a scene, and as a sensor that detects the rotation of the dial detects rotating inputs for detection,” the patent continues.
“Therefore, a camera can be integrated into a relatively compact watch housing package, and the multi-functional functionality of the camera image sensor can avoid the need for a separate sensor component on the watch face.”
The patent also outlines a scenario where the smartwatch’s display could act as a viewfinder and that the “camera flash … could be multi-purpose for optical heart rate monitoring or other physiological sensing applications when the watch is worn on the wrist.”
It is important to note that not all patents always become actual products, given the technical challenges they face. So it would be interesting to see whether this patent of Apple becomes a finished consumer device or not.