Apple received a patent earlier this month from theU.S. Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) titled “Watch Having A Release Mechanism.” The patent (US-11571048-B1) details a method that allows Apple Watch users to have access to a camera located on the bottom of the device. The patent envisions a special watch band with a quick-release feature that would allow the watch to easily be disconnected from the band allowing the user to take pictures and videos with the rear-facing camera.
When the user is done with the camera, he/she puts the watch back in the base of the band and it locks in. This is a much different Apple Watch camera system than the one that Apple received a patent for back in June 2019
(US-10331083-B1). That patent covered a flexible optical sensor that was placed at the end of an Apple Watch band. The band would flex to help point the optical sensor at the subject of a photo or video.
The patent notes that the watch would attach to the nest portion of the band using a releasable attachment such as a latch or a magnet. This would allow “the watch housing to be removed from the nest portion without a need to remove the entire watch band from the wrist…”
Image from the patent showing how a camera on the bottom of the Apple Watch would be accessed by users
If you’re wondering whether a smartwatch has ever been equipped with a camera out of the box, the Samsung Gear 2 featured a 1.9MP camera which didn’t impress those who owned the timepiece. Samsung has yet to include a camera with any of its subsequent watches.
As with any patent received by Apple, there is no guarantee that the technology protected by the USPTO certification will ever see the light of day. Still, for those hoping to see an integrated camera on the Apple Watch someday, this patent is a good indication that Apple continues to work on this.