The Apple Watch Might Be Getting a Camera

The Apple Watch Might Be Getting a Camera
Imagine your next Apple Watch doubling as a removable wrist camera. (Screenshot: USPTO)

The thing about patents is that, even when they’re quietly filed, they eventually get exposed — especially if they’re Apple patents. The latest Apple patent to get this treatment concerns the Apple Watch, and how it might potentially fit a camera in the future.

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. 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.

You can check out part of the patent here. The summary of what the patent entails is pretty straightforward about what Apple is attempting to figure out here:

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.

According to Patently Apple, which extracted some of the more exciting bits of the patent, the Apple Watch camera mechanism wouldn’t just be a point-and-shoot situation, although it would also be able to do that. An accessory with a “release mechanism” would allow you to pop out the watch chassis and move it around to take photos, like a digital camera of yore. And 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.

Before you start asking, “who would use this thing?” consider the fast-moving pets and toddlers who move with such speed that the moment is gone by the time you whip out your phone. A camera on the wrist could help capture those fleeting scenes. It would also be helpful in emergencies, like a car accident that requires some visual evidence. And of course, there’s always the “it’s freaking neat that technology can do this” factor.

AppleInsider noted that one of the original inventors of the Apple Watch’s digital crown, Tyler S. Bushnell, is included on the patent listing, which could mean that this is the real deal. But for now, the Apple Watch with a built-in camera exists as a theoretical. After all, having a patent doesn’t mean an Apple idea will actually see the light of day.