Apple has patented a design for a tiny camera that could fit inside an Apple Watch

Tim cookREUTERS/Lucy NicholsonApple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 27, 2014.

If one of Apple’s patent applications is anything to go by, we might see it start putting very tiny cameras in some of its products.

Apple filed a patent last September for the design of a 2mm-long camera that would be able to capture sharp, high-resolution images. This, the patent said, “would make the camera suitable for use in small devices,” but didn’t specify which of Apple’s devices this might be.

We’ve already heard from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman that the next version of the Apple Watch is expected to come with a camera so people can make FaceTime calls.

There’s no actual proof that this patent is for an Apple Watch camera, though. Apple is continually trying to make all of its products slimmer. The protruding camera lens on the back of the iPhone 6 actually prevents it from lying flat, and disrupts the clean lines of the rest of the phone’s design. Apple has even hidden the lens in previous promotional images.

It could be that Apple is trying to make as small a camera as possible so as not to affect the design of the Apple Watch too much. The idea has already divided Apple users. Some, like my colleague Dave Smith, believe the Apple Watch is most exciting when doing something futuristic and fantastic. He says FaceTime calls would make him feel like a spy. Other users think holding your wrist up to your face might end up being awkward, or drain battery life much too quickly.

Apple doesn’t always create the products it patents, though, and the camera expected to be in the Apple Watch 2 could always be pushed back to a later model, or not exist at all.

The camera is diffraction-limited with a small spot size, meaning that small pixels can be used in the curved photosensor to create high-quality images.

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