Curved photo sensor could lead to tiny Apple Watch camera


Apple is constantly pushing the boundaries with its cameras.
Photo: iFixit

Apple has invented a camera lens that would yield higher-resolution images and would be even tinier than the cameras used in today’s super-slim iPhones.

How tiny would it be? Imagine a total axial length of just 2 mm or even less, making this potentially perfect for the long-awaited FaceTime camera of the next-gen Apple Watch 2.

iPhone camera

The invention is detailed in an Apple patent published today. It describes a small-form-factor camera system based on a spherically curved photo sensor plus new lens. This curved lens would result in the “capturing [of] sharp, high-resolution images” through a special three-lens system that uses two convex lenses supplemented by a third meniscus lens — with both convex and concave surfaces — in the middle.

Apple notes that one of the downsides to its invention is that images could include barrel distortion effects. To counter this, it suggests that a distortion-correction algorithm could be applied with software to correct the image once it’s taken.

As with every patent, there’s no guarantee this technology will show up in a future device, although as always it’s good to know that Apple keeps pushing the boundaries with its tech. With rumors of a FaceTime camera set to arrive with the Apple Watch 2 this year, 2016 may be the year Apple wows the world with one of the smallest, highest-quality cameras you’ve ever seen.

Source: USPTO

Via: Patently Apple

  • A camera in the watch sounds so stupid to me. Even just a FaceTime camera. No, especially a FaceTime camera!

    • Chris Jones

      I think a lot of vlogers would disagree. Most of them walk around holding a camera or phone at head height, so what’s the difference?

      • Not that ‘vloggers’ is a huge market for the Apple Watch, but I guarantee you, if Apple were to put a FaceTime camera in the next watch it would be at the bottom of the list of preferred options for anyone wanting to record themselves. Price being a main reason, but not being able to aim it elsewhere without breaking your arm would be a deal breaker too.

      • Chris Jones

        I could see using it with my wife who FT’s me at random times with the kids or when shopping, but again, it’s not a need. Also, I can ONLY imagine what this would do to the battery.

      • Well, that’s a different use case than vlogging. And still not a good enough reason to add a camera. Especially considering, as you say, battery life.

    • Mac McIntire

      I agree 110%. Let’s stop slapping cameras on everything, especially on devices that require all the help they can get to increase battery life. FaceTime is great, but use your phone for it.

  • Spherically curved sensors have been pursued for more than ten years now.