Apple is pushing the envelope with its camera department and is planning to add cameras – at least one – to its range of smartwatches. Apple recently filed a patent for integrating a camera into the crown of the Apple Watches of the future.
The thing with patents is, even when they’re quietly filed, they do eventually get exposed, especially if they’ve been filed under Apple’s name and corporate branding.
Imagine using the Apple Watch itself to snap a photo. It’s a different concept from how some smartwatches do cameras now, where they allow you to use the wearable as a camera remote of sorts for your smartphone. Currently, most smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, can be used as a trigger to shoot a photo with the camera on the phone.
As revealed in the patent, Apple has been researching how to fit a camera into the Apple Watch’s actual chassis. The idea would be to point your wrist out and let the watch camera take the shot rather than reaching into your bag or pocket for a phone.
The patent’s summary is pretty straightforward: “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.”
The mechanism in the Apple Watch’s camera wouldn’t just be a point-and-shoot solution, although it would also be able to do that. An accessory with a “release mechanism” would allow you to pop the camera out of the watch’s chassis or body and move it around to take photos.
You would still use the digital crown to navigate the Apple Watch interface. The patent also mentions circuitry that would allow room for “a camera flash to illuminate the scene” while capturing a photo. However, whether that would be a practical decision remains to be seen. Given the watch’s dimensions, a flash that would be integrated into the system has to be very tiny and can only be used in macro photography.