Google is still considering building its own Pixel-branded watch and is now looking into including a camera under the display. That's based on a recently spotted patent from April, filed by the company with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent centers on the design of just such a watch and, in particular, the mechanism for attaching a watch strap. It also harkens back to an arguably more interesting Google patent approved today showing a smartwatch with an in-display camera.
The first patent applies more directly to how the proposed Google watch is worn on the wrist. Typically, modern watches utilize a set of quick-release pins that slip in or out relatively easily. Google's new patent shows the strap attaching via a clasp.
The claw-shaped mechanism sits at the end of the watchband, with a hinge on the lower segment. A button or screw is in place to quickly operate the hinge and apply or relieve pressure. That grasps or releases a specially-shaped 'concave member' Google has built into the underside of the watch casing.
How does this relate to the camera watch?
The overall design of the smartwatch in the watchband filing lines up with the above-mentioned newer Google patent. That's because the new patent features the same round design without any apparent physical buttons. Speculatively, that could mean that the search giant plans to use either touch-enabled edges similar to its Pixel-branded smartphones or a Samsung-like rotating bezel.
The outer edge of the watch is fairly standard. There's a slight bevel at the top, viewed from the side, and the same is mirrored along the bottom. The portion that would be pressed against the wearer's writs features a smooth curve transitioning to the flat segment. Aspects that might point to features such as heart rate measuring are blocked in the images by the watch's strap but the glass panel appears to sit flush with the housing.
More interesting is the fact that the other patent points to a wearable that features a large camera lens placed just below the display. It isn't immediately clear whether Google would place the camera with a punch-hole. It may have decided instead to allow captures through a semi-transparent display or through a specialized type of glass. Regardless, the camera is the primary component of the design patent.
A perfect companion for Google Pixel 4?
Now, there's no guarantee Google will ever bring its camera watch to market. It seems unlikely the patent is intended for licensing purposes but a patent doesn't guarantee a final consumer product.
There's also no way to know what resolution Google has planned or how the quality of photo and video captures would stand up if taken through the display panel. But, if the images are accurate to scale, that's almost certainly the direction Google is looking to go with this wearable.
Dimensions aren't provided for the watch shown in the design but the camera lens appears to take up around a third of the overall display area. Even though smartwatches tend to have a screen smaller than 1.5-inches in diameter, that's still a comparatively huge lens.
The sensor or sensors underlying that would be substantial too. That would make this watch a perfect companion to the Pixel series of smartphones from Google since the company has built a reputation for smartphone cameras. It could also bring a significant amount of functionality to the platform itself from video calling to selfie-snapping.