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Apple has explored the idea of adding a camera to the Apple Watch, although not in the way one might expect.

Apple-Watch-FaceTime-2.5-800x916.jpg
MacRumors mockup of Apple Watch with camera band

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes an Apple Watch band with a camera or optical sensor affixed to the end of it. This would enable the Apple Watch to capture photos and video, with the Apple Watch's display serving as the viewfinder.

The band would be made with flexible materials, like many current bands, allowing the user to bend or twist it to aim the camera. Apple's patent includes various illustrations of how the band and camera could be positioned, including one where the camera hovers just above the Apple Watch's display.

apple-watch-positionable-band-patent.jpg

A camera on the Apple Watch could enable basic photo capturing and FaceTime calls on the wrist. The patent also describes the possibility of multiple optical sensors, suggesting that a future Apple Watch band could have both front and rear cameras, allowing users to switch between views like on the iPhone.

Apple filed the patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on September 16, 2016, a week after it unveiled Apple Watch Series 2 models. While both Series 3 and Series 4 models have launched without camera bands since then, Apple could certainly move forward with the idea in future models.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, however, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, the exact implementation if any remains to be seen.

Over the years, rumors have come and gone about the Apple Watch gaining a front-facing camera in the bezel above its display, but this has never come to fruition, perhaps because of the limited internal space available inside the device. A camera watch band is just one potential solution to that problem.

Article Link: Apple Has Explored Adding Positionable Cameras to Apple Watch Bands
 
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dumoore

macrumors member
Nov 30, 2017
59
278
I think one main concern is privacy. I could imagine many stories about some creep finding ways to spy on people with just positioning his/her hand somewhere. Or secretly recording video in places that they shouldn't. At least it's a bit more conspicuous using a big phone and to record someone.
 
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bluespark

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2009
2,302
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Chicago
If they were to add a camera to the Watch, I think this is exactly how it should be done, for a couple of reasons: First, it addresses the concerns of many people (and businesses, government, etc.) that don't want a camera on their wrist. If it's in the band, you just use another band when you go to work, or if your concern is style, etc. Second, properly positioning the camera really is the trick with something on your wrist, especially since you'd ordinarily want to see the screen at the same time you are holding the camera up. Putting it on the band arguably gives people the best chance of doing that.

What many of us *don't* want to see -- and emphatically don't wan to see -- is a camera on the watch itself.
 
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andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,353
414
Boston, MA
Didn't one of the early smartwatches have a camera? Pepple or some casio, don't remember. I'm in the market for a apple watch if the next iteration has some improved features (mainly battery life) and I would like to have a camera in the watchband. Even as an upgrade as long as it's integrated well in the software and if it's not too bulky. Would be nice to go for a run or bike ride and having a camera around. It could be quite useful but even with low resolution sensors it likely won't fit without major compromises.
 
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ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,491
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Toronto, ON
The answer to this problem is to capture a very wide field of view and to have software intelligently crop the frame with the possibility for the user to make adjustments in post. A front facing fisheye camera could work as a selfie/FaceTime camera when looking at the screen and as a general camera by pointing the face of the Watch at your scene and pressing a side button. watchOS would then use machine learning to find subjects in the scene and frame it correctly while also flattening out the fisheye effect.
 
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cocky jeremy

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Jul 12, 2008
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I think one main concern is privacy. I could imagine many stories about some creep finding ways to spy on people with just positioning his/her hand somewhere. Or secretly recording video in places that they shouldn't. At least it's a bit more conspicuous using a big phone and to record someone.
People that want to do that will do it regardless.
 
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adepew

macrumors 6502
Jun 21, 2016
302
437
How exactly would this camera be powered? Would there be a small battery in the band?
 
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NinjaHERO

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2008
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Very interesting idea. I love anything that gives me some flexibility beyond the one or two options the high ups at Apple think we need.
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
There was an aftermarket band like this a few years ago:

https://www.macrumors.com/2016/11/02/apple-watch-band-cmra-cameras/

Never really saw it take off, and I don't expect to see an Apple one in a band take off either. Most likely this will just be standard patent protection, to make sure somebody else doesn't patent the idea (despite there already being a product out there just for that).
 
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SRLMJ23

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2008
2,211
1,264
Central New York
Neat, but completely unnecessary - now and in the future I feel.

At this point, anyone who has an Apple Watch also has an iPhone. Use the iPhone for FaceTime and any other camera related things.

Plus, the screen is so small, and the speaker is not that great, so would the user experience be any good? My guess is no, and feel most people would use it for a little bit and then go back to their iPhones/iPads/MacBooks for FaceTime etc.

Do we really want cameras on EVERYTHING now?

Now I do like the idea if putting sensors in the bands to help with certain health monitoring, but I think Apple probably will design everything for now in the sensor module on the bottom of the AW. We may get "health bands" with sensors in the next major redesign of the AW, which probably will not be until around 2021-2022.

:apple:
 
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4jasontv

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Jul 31, 2011
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My first thought was 'Cool, closer to Dick Tracy'. My second thought was "extended pronation, ouch". My third thought was "people love hidden cameras".
[doublepost=1561488355][/doublepost]
The answer to this problem is to capture a very wide field of view and to have software intelligently crop the frame with the possibility for the user to make adjustments in post. A front facing fisheye camera could work as a selfie/FaceTime camera when looking at the screen and as a general camera by pointing the face of the Watch at your scene and pressing a side button. watchOS would then use machine learning to find subjects in the scene and frame it correctly while also flattening out the fisheye effect.

Clever, but the posture needed for extended observation of ones watch is painful.
 
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Mac 128

macrumors 603
Apr 16, 2015
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I think one main concern is privacy. I could imagine many stories about some creep finding ways to spy on people with just positioning his/her hand somewhere. Or secretly recording video in places that they shouldn't. At least it's a bit more conspicuous using a big phone and to record someone.

If you believe that then you are fooling yourself.

If they were to add a camera to the Watch, I think this is exactly how it should be done, for a couple of reasons: First, it addresses the concerns of many people (and businesses, government, etc.) that don't want a camera on their wrist. If it's in the band, you just use another band when you go to work, or if your concern is style, etc. Second, properly positioning the camera really is the trick with something on your wrist, especially since you'd ordinarily want to see the screen at the same time you are holding the camera up. Putting it on the band arguably gives people the best chance of doing that.

What many of us *don't* want to see -- and emphatically don't wan to see -- is a camera on the watch itself.

Define many. Many of us do want a camera on the device itself. Apple's model tends to be multiple devices to serve specific purposes. Need a watch with a camera, but can't use one on the job? Buy two different watches.

Add to that this is a terrible implementation which is very un-Apple like.

Wearables are great for certain things - FaceTime seems like a stretch.

FaceTime and selfies is exactly what a camera on a watch would be great for.

Neat, but completely unnecessary - now and in the future I feel.

At this point, anyone who has an Apple Watch also has an iPhone. Use the iPhone for FaceTime and any other camera related things.

Plus, the screen is so small, and the speaker is not that great, so would the user experience be any good? My guess is no, and feel most people would use it for a little bit and then go back to their iPhones/iPads/MacBooks for FaceTime etc.

Do we really want cameras on EVERYTHING now?

Now I do like the idea if putting sensors in the bands to help with certain health monitoring, but I think Apple probably will design everything for now in the sensor module on the bottom of the AW. We may get "health bands" with sensors in the next major redesign of the AW, which probably will not be until around 2021-2022.

:apple:

Totally disagree. The watch is virtually an iPhone replacement now. The main thing keeping it from being that is the ability to take photos. People who prize the ability to take photos and videos will always have to keep their phones on them until the watch adds a camera -- and not in the wrist band. I wouldn't mind if there were optional accessory bands which included things like specialized sensors, extra battery packs, and better cameras for framing perspective shots, but those are both geeky things that takes away from the appeal of the watch, and something that doesn't address the way most people take pictures with their phones.
 
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KazKam

macrumors 6502
Oct 25, 2011
492
1,649
Tying core hardware functionality to the watchband... just a terrible, terrible idea.

So you wouldn't get camera features if you don't have an Apple certified $400 watch band? Just lame.
 
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