Apple wins patent for an Apple Watch with a built-in camera & unique band system that allows the watch to easily detach to take photos
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a possible future Apple Watch with a detachable watch segment that has a camera at the bottom of the watch. It was originally designed for James Bond and is now available for us mere mortals.
Secondly, there's new band/strap system to go along with this new watch form factor so as to make it easy for the camera segment to be quickly detached.
Apple notes that the band includes a first strap segment, a second strap segment, a nest portion secured between the first strap segment and the second strap segment, and an opening extending through the nest portion. The watch could further include a housing releasably mountable to the nest portion, and a sensor disposed within the housing and configured to align with the opening when the housing is mounted to the nest portion.
Apple Watch with a Release Mechanism
According to Apple, a future version of Apple Watch could have an attachment mechanism that permits quick or ergonomic release of the watch housing or main case body from a user's wrist. This could be useful to, for example, permit sensors such as a camera in the watch housing to be operated while held in a user's free hand or while otherwise removed from the user's wrist.
The attachment mechanism of the watch could allow for new or useful functionalities to be integrated in the watch housing that may not be possible or practical to operate while the watch housing is retained on the user's watch.
Additionally or alternatively, the attachment mechanism could allow for more quick, ergonomic, or convenient release of the watch or components of the watch from a user's wrist, without a need to operate a clasp, buckle, or closure mechanism that may be relatively more cumbersome to operate or disposed relatively far away from the watch housing (e.g., on an opposite side of the user's wrist).
According to some embodiments, the attachment mechanism may be implemented with a nest-type mechanism in which the watch band could remain wrapped around the user's wrist upon removal of the housing from the user's wrist and/or reattachment of the housing to the user's wrist.
The nest mechanism may employ a releasable attachment component, such as a latch, a magnet, or another suitable mechanism for releasably mounting the watch housing to a nest portion of the watch band, in a manner that permits the watch housing to be removed from the nest portion without a need to remove the entire watch band from the wrist or to operate a clasp or buckle disposed on an opposite of the wrist.
The nest portion could further include features, such as an opening for sensing therethrough, to facilitate dual functionality of the watch housing in which sensors in the watch housing could take physiological measurements from the user's wrist through the nest portion when the housing is mounted thereto, and in which the same or different sensors could capture images or otherwise interact with an environment external to the watch when the housing is removed from the wrist.
According to some embodiments, a button or other actuator for releasing the attachment mechanism may be disposed on or otherwise proximate to the housing and accessible from an outward-facing surface of the watch to permit operation thereof by a free hand concurrently gripping the housing. This could allow the housing to be decoupled and removed from the user's wrist in one seamless motion.
The actuator could be configured to release the housing from a nest portion. Additionally or alternatively, the actuator disposed proximate to the housing could be configured to operate a clasp or other closure mechanism remote from the housing to disconnect an end of the watch strap to permit removal of the watch band together with the housing.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is an illustration of a watch housing held by a user's hand to take a picture; FIG. 4 is a cross section view of a watch having a bottom-facing camera.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a perspective view of a watch having a release mechanism; FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the watch of FIG. 5 with a watch housing released from a watch band; Apple's patent FIG. 15 is a top view of a watch having a partial turn release mechanism; FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a watch band having a nest portion.
Apple's patent FIG. 17 above is a top view of the watch band of FIG. 16 coupled with a watch housing; FIG. 18 is a bottom view of the watch band coupled with the watch housing of FIG. 17 coupled with a watch housing; FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a watch having a release mechanism in a closed configuration; and FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the watch of FIG. 19 in an open configuration.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11571048 B1. One of the inventors listed on the patent is Antonio Herrera, Product Design Engineer – Apple Watch.
Apple's project began in 2018. Patently Apple posted a granted patent report for their first iteration of a camera built into a future Apple Watch band in a 2019 IP report titled "Apple Wins Patent for an Apple Watch Band with a Built-In Rotatable Camera." In May 2022, we covered a second patent about a camera built into Apple Watch. With today's granted patent being Apple's third patent seeking a way to bring a camera to Apple Watch, it becomes a trend worth noting.