Halfway through Humane’s Ai Pin intro video, I kept thinking, “Yeah, I want this stuff.” But I don’t want it the way Humane sells it. Instead, I kept thinking: What if the Humane Ai Pin was a $99 Apple Watch camera connected wirelessly to the smartwatch?
This is the first feasible Apple Watch camera solution
There have been rumors that Apple Watches got a camera before the device even had cellular connectivity. The orientation of the camera never really made sense, whether it was facing you or facing forward. Would it be to capture things around you or make video calls? Given these two constraints, it still doesn’t make sense to add a camera to the watch itself.
Additionally, there are obvious product design questions, such as whether it’s worth using the internal space for a small camera with poor image quality, when one might argue that smartwatches need all the available battery space. Most people want their smartwatches to get thinner, not thicker.
This is where seeing the Ai Pin form factor attached magnetically helped solidify the solution on how to add a camera to a watch. It should be an add-on accessory for people who want it and it should be wireless.
To be clear, though, I have little interest in the talk-to-ChatGPT product that Humane sells. Instead, I want to see Apple use this idea itself.
The case for a wireless Apple Watch camera
Having a wireless camera opens up the possibility for the Apple Watch to mature even further as a product. Take photos, record videos, and even take it off your shirt and hold it in your hand to make FaceTime calls. Maybe even let it clip onto a MacBook to make a better webcam.
Going further, he could even still perform the scanning tricks demonstrated by Ai Pin, identifying food nutrition by scanning a piece of fruit in front of him. Hold a product in front of the camera and all the information about the item could be displayed on the Apple Watch screen. Scan a sign in another language and display the translated text on the watch.
If you’re thinking, “Yeah, that’s great and all, but do I really need a camera for my watch?” » Allow me to offer another perspective in the form of a personal anecdote.
During a recent 6.2 mile weekend run, I was bitten by a dog. Luckily it was a smaller dog and the damage was limited, but at the moment, without my phone and only my Apple Watch, I wasn’t sure how to document the incident for later. I thought of various things to do in hindsight, but the lack of a camera instantly became a more glaring problem than before.
The only device I use daily is my Apple Watch, because it’s the equivalent of a small cellular iPod that I can use to listen to music and podcasts. Plus, I don’t have to worry about losing a $1,000 iPhone. I hope there isn’t another random dog attack, but there are plenty of other accidents that could happen while running next to a street. My recent solution has been to use the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses while running, which have a built-in camera for taking photos and videos.
On a more positive note, aside from the attacks, there are plenty of images to capture, like sunsets or stunning views while running without my phone.
Adding a camera accessory may not change anyone’s mind about using the Apple Watch if they’ve already decided not to. But there is a growing market of people who could benefit from it and who use the watch without a phone: children. I know this first hand. As a parent of a child who uses an Apple Watch, having a way to video call them would have been very beneficial at times. They have also asked me several times to take a photo of something and send it to them, as they currently have no way of doing so.
Apple must do it itself
Forget silly third-party watch bands with built-in cameras. It’s not good. A real viable solution for deep integration would require Apple to make this accessory. Even simply syncing photos from the Meta Smart Glasses to my phone after my run is less seamless than I’d like.
My Apple Watch Ultra has a cellular connection with its own number. It has audio streaming, GPS, mapping, fitness tracking, messaging, and even rudimentary gaming capabilities. It’s a real wrist-worn computer. But it must continue to evolve. If the Apple Watch doesn’t continue to develop in new ways, are we just waiting for it to disappear over time?
I didn’t think my Apple Watch was missing a camera until I saw the Humane Ai Pin design. Now I can’t shake the idea that some sort of wireless camera is needed, not to meet a single goal or need, but to cover a growing list of them.