Apple has been granted a patent (11,172,101) for a multifunction accessory case. It includes a case for AirPods and AirPods Pro that includes, among other things, a digital camera.
About the patent
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, as wearable devices achieve greater connectivity and improved capabilities, users are choosing to reply primarily on their wearable device for communications and connectivity by leaving their smart phones and/or other mobile devices behind as a matter of convenience. However, the tech giant notes that, while some modern wearable devices allow for cellular communication, using the microphone and speaker on a wearable device for phone calls can offer a “less than optimum” experience. So users often carry wireless headphones, such as earbuds and their accompanying storage cases, with them to listen to music while running, bicycling, or simply carrying out daily errands or activities.
Digital cameras built into a wearable device such as AirPods might have drawbacks due to space constraints of the wearable device and/or limited degrees of freedom for use because the wearable device can be, for example, attached to a wrist of a user or in a user’s ear. Apple’s idea is for a case with a built-in camera. I’m not sure where any digital photos would be stored. Would the case itself have a small SSD?
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Embodiments of the disclosure pertain to multifunctional accessory cases for electronic devices (e.g., a pair of wireless earbuds). Embodiments pertain to a case for a portable listening device, such as a pair of headphones or a pair of wireless earbuds. The case can include one or more cavities to hold the listening device and charging circuitry to provide power to a rechargeable battery within the listening device (or within each of the pair of earbuds).
“The embodiments of the case can include a digital camera. The digital camera can include a lens mounted on the housing, digital processing circuitry, and a memory. In some embodiments the digital camera can be powered by a case battery. Embodiments of the case can include a strobe, a microphone, a speaker, a radio frequency transmitter/receiver, and a display.”