Google wants add a camera into its long-awaited smartwatch, dubbed Pixel Watch.
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Thankfully, it seems the project is still alive and well inside the Mountain View-based company, with Google filing a new patent about its wrist-worn device that was spotted by the eagle-eyed team at LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab) and reveals plans to include a camera embedded within the watch face.
Although the patent was first filed in 2017, the official documentation was only published publicly by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, on August 27, 2019.
The patent includes seven illustrations that hint at the final design of the Pixel Watch. According to the sketches, the smartwatch will have a circular face – reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 that debuted earlier this month.
Samsung has experimented with building a camera into its wearable offering in the past, but it has dropped the lens – originally incorporated into the watch band, instead of the face – in recent years.
Unfortunately, the patent does not explicitly reveal what Google wants to do with the camera included in its new smartwatch. It's possible it will be part of a facial recognition system used to unlock the smartwatch or authenticate tap-to-pay. Google has already confirmed that it will use facial recognition for these functions on its upcoming flagship smartphone, Google Pixel 4 and Pixel4 XL.
Of course, it's possible the camera is just, well, a camera. However, holding out an outstretched arm to make or receive a Google Duo video call sounds like it would get pretty tiring pretty fast. Or taking selfies with a camera stuck to the outside of your wrist doesn't seem like it would be all that convenient either.
What does seem clear in the patent illustrations is that Google will use a rotating bezel around the round face to handle navigation in the smartwatch operating system, Wear OS. Samsung introduced this system with a physical bezel, before transitioning to a touchscreen alternative in the latest Galaxy Watch Active2.
Google is expected to hold its annual hardware event in early October with new versions of the Google Home Hub, Pixel smartphone purportedly planned. Whether we will finally see a smartwatch from the company remains to be seen.
Until then, it's worth taking all of this with a healthy pinch of salt. After all, the patent was first filed by Google in 2017 and a lot could have changed within the firm since then. That said, with the $40 million investment in watchmaker Fossil from Google earlier this year, it's probably safe to assume the wrist is still an area of interest for the Californian company. In the meantime, if you're looking for a smartwatch, why not check-out our definitive list of the best smartwatches around?