The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently granted an Apple patent, titled “Watch having 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 Digital Crown of the Apple Watch inside the smartwatch’s flexible wristband. The band would be made with flexible materials, which would allow the user to bend or twist when aiming the camera. The lens itself would rotate on the end of the band for complete flexibility.
The patent details Apple’s concept, which includes various drawings of how the camera could be positioned on the end of the wristband.
“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,” reads the patent.
The above implies that the user will be able to capture a picture of a scene through the back side with the housing of the watch removed or detached from the band. The patent says that Apple has built a new release mechanism that would allow the users to detach the Watch housing from the band, allowing the user to position the camera perfectly.
The new patent for a camera built into the Digital Crown can include a rotatable dial for digital inputs and for images to be captured through an aperture extending through the dial.
“A lens can be integrated within the aperture and/or behind the aperture of the dial to focus an image of a scene. An image sensor disposed behind the aperture can further be configured to detect movement of a marking on the dial to allow the image sensor to function both as a camera for capturing pictures of a scene, and as a sensor that detects rotation of the dial for sensing rotational inputs,” the patent reads further.
“Accordingly, a camera can be integrated in a relatively compact watch housing package, and the multi-purposed functionality of the camera image sensor can avoid a need for a separate sensing component on the dial.”
The patent also outlines a scenario where the smartwatch’s display could serve as the viewfinder and that the “camera flash… be multi-purposed 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 end up becoming actual products considering the technical challenges it faces. So, it would be interesting to see whether this patent from Apple becomes a finished consumer device or not.