The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 63 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's newly granted patent for a possible future Apple Watch band being able to capture images and video.
Apple notes in their granted patent that a potential barrier to smartwatch adoption is their minimal image-capturing ability. The invention covers Apple Watch with a band that incorporates a camera that is independently positionable relative to a watch body. This can allow Apple Watch to capture images and video at angles and orientations that do not depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of Apple Watch. Such functionality can replace or at least meaningfully augment a user's existing camera-enabled iPhone.
Such a wearable device that captures images and video may do so via an optical lens integrated into a distal end portion of a watch band that retains the device on a user's wrist. Embodiments may include a camera watch band that is capable of connecting directly to one side of the watch body (which may include a display), an optical sensor attached to or integrated within the distal end portion of the camera watch band opposite its connection to the watch body, and a data connection between the optical sensor and the watch body or other device.
The extension portion of the camera watch band may be flexible such that it can be manipulated by a user (e.g., by bending or twisting) to aim the optical sensor. The optical sensor may be housed in a distal end portion of the camera watch band. In some embodiments, the extension portion of the camera watch band may maintain its form after being manipulated and released by a user, to maintain a user-set camera orientation relative to the rest of the smartwatch.
To help maintain its form, the flexible camera watch band may include a malleable metal core, a core of magnetorhelogical fluid, mechanical links, or any combination of these features. In some embodiments, the optical sensor may be disposed in a rigid housing within the distal end portion of the Apple Watch band. Alternatively, the optical sensor may removably mount to the watch body to secure the optical sensor in a closer fixed position relative to the watch body.
The optical sensor may capture images or video when the user takes an affirmative action such as pinching the camera watch band, giving a verbal command, pressing a button on the distal end portion of the camera watch band, or pressing a button on the case (e.g., on the screen of the display, which may include a graphical input on a touchscreen of the display).
In some embodiments, a second optical sensor is coupled to the opposing side of the camera watch band to which the first optical sensor is coupled. The user may quickly switch between optical sensors or capture images or video from either optical sensor or from both optical sensors at the same time.
In some embodiments, the optical sensor is coupled to the camera watch band by a rotatable hinge, allowing the optical sensor to be rotated at the end of the camera watch band.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below shows a perspective view of a watch with a camera watch band being handled by a user; FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a watch with a camera watch band where the camera is in a closely deployed state.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 above shows side view of a watch with a camera watch band where the camera is in a closely deployed state; FIG. 8 shows a side view of a camera watch band with a rotatable hinge.
Earlier today we posted a report titled "A Deeper Look at Apple Watch in 2018 shows us that even with more competition, Apple's Lead in this sector is Staggering." By adding camera functionality to a future Apple Watch Band would only make the device that much more appealing.
Apple's granted patent 10,331,083 was originally filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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