FaceTime is one of the most popular ways to video call, and it’s available on almost every Apple device you can get your hands on. Every device but the Apple Watch, that is.
But it looks like Apple might soon change that. A new patent granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office, first spotted by AppleInsider, outlines a watch band with a camera system and some advanced camera tech.
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Apple knows that FaceTiming from your watch could be difficult because you’d have to keep your wrist in front of your face and would have to hold it high enough that the person on the other side of the call wouldn’t be faced with the inside of your nose.
Apple proposes using software to fix both problems. One, it would use face detection technology to keep your face in the frame at all times, even if your hand was moving about. This would work similar to Facebook’s Portal smart display, which adjusts the video to keep someone in frame.
Second, it would use software to digitally alter the angle. So if you’re holding the watch below your face, it would use software to correct the image so that it looked like you’re staring straight at your watch. It could do this by recreating parts of your face with old facial data it had captured. It would then register your facial expressions and movements and map that onto your generated face in real time. It’d be like a hyper-real version of Animoji.
This could be done in two ways. Apple is exploring either using a single wide-angle camera or two cameras that would work in conjunction with each other, capturing a scene and using software to stitch it all together. Apple also wants you to be a photographer from your wrist, and all of this is aimed at making it easier to take your photos from your smartwatch.
While Apple knows it’s difficult to take photos from your wrist because it’s difficult to see what you’re shooting, it thinks capturing as much of a scene as possible and letting you crop it down later is a better solution.
As noted in the patent application, this is all intended to help you be less reliant on your iPhone. So that you can keep it home while you do things like play sports or workout where having a slab in your pocket isn’t ideal. The patent was applied for way back in 2016, and it incorporates a number of Apple’s ideas that weren’t yet features – including the face-detection technology used in Face ID and Animoji.
It’s not clear when Apple could eventually make this camera-equipped watch band, but judging on how impressive Apple’s chip team has been recently, it seems like it would take a couple of years until Apple is able to make an Apple Watch with a processor powerful enough to run the software needed for this.
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