Apple Has Explored Adding Positionable Cameras to Apple Watch Bands

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

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.


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.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, watchOS 7
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago
Sports watch bands, now starting at $249
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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14 months ago
It goes without saying, Apple has a lot of patents showing off features that never see the light of day.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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14 months ago
Great, now that double loop will have a competitor for the title of freakiest-looking-watchband.

Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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14 months ago
Imagine how at concerts, people can still keep their hands in the air and film the stage instead of holding up massive iPad Pros.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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14 months ago
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.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago
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.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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