Apple is planning to make a major upgrade to its Apple Watch, which will raise privacy concerns.
Apple has revealed a variety of designs to install a small camera inside its Apple Watch in a recently granted patent. This camera would allow users to snap pictures without reaching for their iPhones. Its inconspicuous design could increase the risks of covert photography.
One example of such design is to place the camera inside the watch’s “digital crown”, allowing the user to point their watch at a scene to capture photos or video using the watch’s display as a viewfinder. This may be convenient but it will make it much easier to capture photos in places where phones or cameras are not allowed. (Just google “watch camera” and you’ll get multiple “spy camera” results.
Apple’s well-publicized position on privacy should allay most concerns. However, there are many references to privacy in the patent document. These refer more to data protection for the wearer than to the subjects of any photos that may be taken using the new camera.
Another design places the camera at the back of the watch. Apple envisions that the user will remove all or part of their watch from their wrist to expose the camera and take photos. It could be easier to remove the entire watch strap using a quick release mechanism than unfastening it all. While this option is less private, it’s still convenient to take photos.
Although such watch-based cameras might seem to be limited in practical use, there are many other options, including third-party add-ons for Apple Watch. This indicates that there is a demand for camera add-ons to the Apple Watch.
Apple envisions that its watch cameras will have multiple functions such as measuring physiological data like heart rate or detecting movement of digital controls, such as the digital crown.
The Apple Watch will be more useful than ever, regardless of its photographic quality. We may also need to accept that there are many less obvious cameras.