Future Apple Watches may have the ability to take photos and record video. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,331,083) for a “watch band with an optical sensor.”
In the patent filing, Apple says that “a potential barrier” to smartwatch adoption is their minimal image-capturing ability. The tech giant wants its smartwatches to be able to capture images and video at angles and orientations that don’t depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of the smartwatch, including the watch body.
Apple says that s=Such functionality can replace or at least meaningfully augment a user’s existing camera or camera-enabled device (e.g., smartphone, tablet). Such a wearable device that captures images and video may do so via an optical lens integrated into a distal end portion of a watch band that retains the device on a user’s wrist.
Embodiments may include a camera watch band that is capable of connecting directly to one side of the watch body (which may include a display), an optical sensor attached to or integrated within the distal end portion of the camera watch band opposite its connection to the watch body, and a data connection between the optical sensor and the watch body or other device.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “A camera optical sensor is disposed at a distal end portion of a camera watch band that attaches a watch body to a user’s wrist. The camera watch band is configured to be coupled to at least one side of the watch body, and the camera watch band includes an optical sensor or camera, and an operable connection to transfer data between the optical sensor and the display or other device.
“The band is flexible and may be manipulated by a user to aim an optical sensor disposed at the distal end portion of the camera watch band separately from the watch body. The display or other device functions as the viewfinder for the optical sensor.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.