Wristcam has already earned a lot of attention with its hardware – a wristband accessory that adds a pair of cameras to an Apple Watch. But since it first arrived in summer 2021 there has been one feature which has remained just out of reach – video calling. Now, finally, the Wristcam offers the Jetsons-esque sci-fi possibility the Apple Watch has always hinted at.
The Wristcam itself is a ‘Made for Apple Watch’ band with a difference; as well as dual cameras it has an independent battery and 8Gb memory. The 8-megapixel main camera looks out from the wrist, while the slight bulge in the design allows for the 2-megapixel selfie camera, crucial to the new video calling.
The 22g device communicates with the watch via BLE – connecting together like a pair of AirPods.
Since launch it’s been possible to capture images with a tap of the button or a Siri command, but Wristcam CEO Ari Roisman said “video calling is one of the biggest requests we’ve had from customers and a long-awaited sci-fi dream come true.”
Digital Camera World saw a successful demonstration of this technology, which can work via the cellular version of the Apple Watch so your phone could be left at home entirely. It was notable how similar the call looked to a typical video call, albeit on a wrist! According to Rosiman, thanks to the Wristcam’s internal battery, the call time available on the watch is similar to that for ordinary LTE calls too (we aim to test this soon at DCW).
The underpinning of the Wristcam’s Live Video Calling is the Wristcam app, so for the moment you can only call other users of the app – but you could tell anyone you really wanted to speak to (or be able to call you) to install it as watch-to-phone is possible. Rosiman explained that the system is built on Apple’s CallKit, however, so other integrations could come along. That is not – however – the same thing as Facetime so while the experience is ‘FaceTime-like’, you cannot make a FaceTime call.
On the subject of developer kits, Wristcam have also announced Wristcam OS, an SDK which will allow Apple developers – of which there are some 30 million at last count – to access their platform, and just 6 weeks before the annual Apple Developer event, WWDC.
Since it is the only camera device available for the Apple Watch it represents a new possibility for developers; “robust and simple APIs for social and AR experiences” which they can experiment with on Apple Watch, and more enhancements in the future for Wristcam customers. Given the time Wristcam has sunk in achieving video over the Apple Watch’s Bluetooth connection, this could be very appealing for developers wanting to test possibilities.
Wristcam has an “active and growing” user base and has rolled in features including image stabilization already with more on the way. That the company was founded by an ex-Apple engineer has clearly helped it hit the ground running, and it sees both the continuing growth of the Apple Watch and Apple’s current focus on health features – rather than adding cameras – as being in its favor. We can’t deny that, as well as the new features, the device also has a distinct appeal to modern street photographers.