Apple invents an Apple watch camera that could be redirected to accommodate face ID, facetime, taking videos & much more

Apple has been filing patents for an Apple Watch with a camera system since 2016. Since then we’ve posted a couple of other patent reports on this theme (01 and 02). As components continue to shrink in size, Apple is once again trying to find the right Apple Watch design that could accommodate a camera system. Apple’s teams seem to be conflicted. One team worked on a camera that could be used to take selfies and possibly use Face ID in 2016 while other Apple teams are working on a general camera allow users to take photos of people and things in front of them.

The US Patent & Trademark Office published another patent application from Apple that is focused on integrating a camera into a future Apple Watch that is able to be redirected to accommodate a number applications such as Face ID, videoconferencing, QR Code scanning, video capture, photos and more.

The wearable electronic device may include a display, a housing at least partially enclosing the display, and a digital camera assembly. The housing may additionally comprise a metal enclosure component. The metal enclosure component may define a front surface surrounding the display and defining a camera opening. The digital camera assembly may be positioned within the camera cavity and may be configured to receive optical input through the camera opening.

In various embodiments, the housing may define an internal cavity and a passage between the internal cavity and the camera cavity. The display may be positioned at least partially within the internal cavity. The wearable electronic device may further comprise a circuit assembly positioned within the internal cavity and operably coupled to the display and a flexible circuit passing through the passage and operably coupling the digital camera assembly to the circuit assembly. The passage may be configured to receive the digital camera assembly during installation of the digital camera assembly into the camera cavity.

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. To perform one or more of these functions, the digital camera assembly may be positioned within a portion of the housing such that the digital camera assembly can be directed toward a subject.

For example, a housing may include a protrusion extending at least partially over a band slot configured to receive a band, or strap, that couples the housing with a body part of a user (e.g., a user’s wrist). The protrusion may define an internal cavity (e.g., a camera cavity) configured to receive a digital camera assembly, an electrical coupling element, a lens, and/or other associated components. The protrusion may additionally be provided at an angle with respect to a surrounding portion of the housing in order to establish a viewing angle for the digital camera assembly positioned within the protrusion.

Apple’s patent 20230091991 that was published was originally filed in August 2022.