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Apple explored building a camera into the Apple Watch’s band

The Verge logo The Verge 6/25/2019 Jon Porter
a close up of a cup © Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Apple considered putting a camera in the Apple Watch’s band, according to a new patent spotted by AppleInsider. The design places an “optical sensor” at the end of the flexible Watch strap, allowing you to twist and turn it to get the photograph you need without having to contort your wrist.

For example, you can pull the strap upward to photograph what’s in front of you or fold it back on itself to take a selfie. One of the diagrams in the patent shows how the camera could swivel to take photos on either side of the band, while the patent also references having a band with two cameras in “opposing optical directions.” Photos could be taken by “pinching the watch band” or using voice controls. When not in use, the camera could be tucked out of the way on the Watch band.

Putting a camera on a wearable is a difficult thing to do, and I say this as someone who has tried to take a couple of photos with the camera-equipped Nubia Alpha smartwatch. As soon as a camera is strapped to your wrist, your photography options are very limited, unless you’re willing to bend your arm into some almost impossible positions. Including the camera in a strap neatly solves many of these issues, although it does come with its own problems as we saw with the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

There have been rumors about Apple putting a camera on the Apple Watch before, and this patent could be related to those previous plans. However, the appearance of this patent doesn’t mean the design is any closer to release. After all, Apple applied for this patent back in September 2016, the same month Apple released the Apple Watch Series 2. Since then, Apple has released two more generations of the Apple Watch with no cameras in sight. That’s not to say it’s never going to happen, but you shouldn’t hold your breath.

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