Apple Developing a Face ID-Capable Selfie Camera for the Apple Watch

Apple Watch

A future Apple Watch could integrate a built-in selfie camera for photography, video, and Face ID.

A newly-revealed patent application suggests that the company is looking at fitting a camera into a slight protrusion located above the display on the chassis of an Apple watch.

Apple filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled, “Wearable Electronic Device Having A Digital Camera Assembly” which was made publically available on March 23.

An illustration from Apple’s patent application

According to AppleInsider, the proposed product would be similar to the existing third-party Wristcam accessory which replaces the Apple Watch band to place a camera above the watch face. However, Wristcam’s product is an entire watch band.

In the patent, Apple says users would be able to remove the band on the Apple Watch and adds that “cameras may be desirably integrated into an electronic device” to generate images or videos. However, “due to the large amount of space utilized by a display,” cameras or other optical systems “may interface with the user’s range of motion.”

Additionally, Apple says that “low-quality components may not meet a user’s quality expectations.”

The company explicitly wants a video camera with up to 4K and 60 seconds per second or a still camera with a resolution of up to 12 megapixels.

An illustration from Apple’s patent application

Apple states: “The digital camera assembly may be used for a variety of purposes including, as non-limiting examples, facial identification, fingerprint sensing, scanning a Quick Response (QR) code, video conferencing, biometric monitoring (e.g., heart rate monitoring), photography, video or image capture, or any combination thereof.”

This proposed Apple Watch camera could therefore presumably unlock all of a user’s Apple devices through Face ID.

The Watch could also use its camera to “capture movement of a user’s body or other objects during certain activities.” Using visual inertial odometry (VIO), “the camera can be used to obtain a high degree of motion sensing accuracy, which may be used to monitor, detect, and/or predict a user’s motion or gesture based on certain characteristics.”

In the patent application, Apple also describes how it wants the camera to be streamlined and seamless rather than bulky and distracting on the watch.

The company says it does not expect to be able to fit a camera with these specifications under the screen of the Apple watch. Instead, the wearable device will have a protrusion for a camera located above the watch face.

“[A] digital camera assembly may be integrated into the wearable electronic device in a way so as to minimize an effect of the digital camera assembly on other electronic components and/or a form factor of the wearable electronic device,” Apple says.

The company adds: “Likewise, the protrusion may be shaped to avoid interfering with geometry of the band slot so that a band/strap may still be permitted to couple with the housing of the wearable electronic device.”

Last month, PetaPixel reported on another patent awarded to Apple for a system that would allow the Apple Watch to be detachable from the band using a latch or a magnet giving the user access to the camera found on the back of the watch.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.