Facebook plans first smartwatch for next summer with two cameras, heart rate monitor

A detachable display with cameras for capturing video without your phone

Facebook is taking a new approach to its first smartwatch, which the company hasn’t confirmed publicly but currently plans to debut next summer. The device will have a display with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist to take pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s suite of apps, including Instagram. ledge Have you learnt.

A camera on the front of the watch display is present primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the rear can be used for capturing footage when separated from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. According to two people familiar with the project, Facebook is tapping other companies to make accessories to attach the camera hub to things like backpacks, both of whom requested anonymity, so to speak, without Facebook’s permission.

The idea is to encourage watch owners to use it in a way that no longer uses a smartphone. It’s part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to sidestep two major mobile phone platform makers Apple and Google, which largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people.

The planned device is Facebook’s first stab at releasing hardware specifically for the wrist, opening up another area of ​​competition with Apple at a time when the two tech giants are already at odds on other fronts. Apple has aggressively positioned itself as a protector of the privacy that apps such as Facebook can collect, while Facebook has been surrounded by scandals regarding its handling of user data. This dynamic could create an uphill battle for Facebook to convince people to buy its upcoming Apple Watch competitor, especially since it plans to position the watch as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor. is.

People familiar with the matter said Facebook is working with top wireless carriers in the US to support LTE connectivity in the watch, which means it needs to be paired with the phone for it to work and sell it in their stores. will not be required. The watch will come in white, black and gold, and Facebook hopes to initially sell volume in the low six digits. According to Counterpoint Research, that’s a tiny fraction of the overall smartwatch market—Apple sold 34 million watches by comparison last year.

In future versions of the watch, Facebook plans to serve as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses, which Zuckerberg thinks will one day be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. The company plans to use technology derived from CTRL-Lab, a startup that has demonstrated an armband capable of controlling a computer through wrist movements.

Facebook aims to release the first version of the watch in the summer of 2022 and is already working on the second and third generations for subsequent years. Employees recently discussed the device’s price at around $400, but the price point could change. While it is unlikely, Facebook may scrap the watch entirely, as the device has not yet entered mass production or even been given an official name.

Facebook has a great track record in building hardware. Its 2013 phone with HTC was a resounding flop, and it has yet to disclose sales of its Oculus VR headsets or Portal video chat devices for the home. In recent interviews, executives have said that sales of the Oculus Quest 2 headset have surpassed all previous Oculus headsets combined.

Facebook’s interest in making smartwatches dates back at least a few years. It acquired Fitbit in 2019 before Google bought the fitness wearable maker. Since then, the social network has spent nearly $1 billion developing the first version of its watch and hundreds of people are working on the effort, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story. information previously reported that Facebook was building a smartwatch with health and messaging features, but details about its cameras and other specifics are new in this story.

Using a custom version of Google’s Android operating system, Facebook plans to rely on its own apps and external partnerships to create compelling experiences for the watch, which will include a companion app for the phone. Still, Facebook’s wrist wearables are far from guaranteed to resonate with the masses. Smartwatches with cameras on them have failed to catch on so far, and Apple has already captured the high end of the market.

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