Facebook plans the first smartwatch for next summer with two cameras
Facebook is taking a new approach for its first smartwatch, which the company has not publicly confirmed but is currently planning to debut next summer. The device will feature a screen with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist to take photos and videos that can be shared on Facebook’s suite of apps, including Instagram, the Edge has learned.
A camera on the front of the watch screen exists primarily for video calls, while a 1080p auto-focus camera on the rear can be used to capture images when detached from the bezel. stainless steel wrist. Facebook is using other companies to create accessories to attach the camera hub to items such as backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity to talk wirelessly. Facebook permission.
The idea is to encourage watch owners to use it in the same way smartphones are used today. It’s part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s plan to create more consumer devices that bypass Apple and Google, the two main creators of mobile phone platforms that largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people. .
The planned device is Facebook’s first move to launch hardware specifically for the wrist, opening up another area of ââcompetition with Apple at a time when the two tech giants are already at odds on other fronts. Apple has aggressively positioned itself as a privacy protector by limiting the types of data apps like Facebook can collect, while Facebook has been besieged for years by scandals over its handling of user data. This dynamic could create an uphill battle for Facebook to convince people to buy its next competitor Apple Watch, especially since it also plans to position the watch as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor.
Facebook is working with the best wireless carriers in the US to support LTE connectivity in the watch, which means it won’t need to be paired with a phone to work and sell it in their stores, people familiar with the matter said. The watch will be available in white, black, and gold, and Facebook is initially hoping to sell six-figure volume. That’s a tiny fraction of the overall smartwatch market – Apple sold 34 million watches last year by comparison, according to Counterpoint Research.
In future versions of the watch, Facebook predicts that it will serve as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses, which Zuckerberg says will one day be as ubiquitous as cellphones. The company plans to use the technology it acquired from CTRL-labs, a startup that has demonstrated armbands 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 the following years. Employees recently discussed pricing the device at around $ 400, but the price could change. While this is unlikely, Facebook could also remove the watch altogether, as the device has yet to be mass-produced or even given an official name.
Facebook’s history of hardware manufacturing is uneven. Its 2013 phone with HTC has been a spectacular flop, and it has yet to disclose sales of its Oculus VR headsets or Portal home video chat device. In recent interviews, executives said sales of the Oculus Quest 2 headset have outpaced all previous Oculus headsets combined.
Facebook’s interest in building a connected watch dates back at least a few years. He was planning to acquire Fitbit in 2019 before Google bought the fitness clothing maker. Since then, the social network has spent around $ 1 billion to develop the first version of its watch and hundreds of people are working on it, according to one 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 on its cameras and other details in this story are new.
Using a customized version of Google’s Android operating system, Facebook plans to leverage its suite of apps and external partnerships to create compelling experiences for the watch, which will include a companion app for phones. Even still, Facebook’s wearable wrist resonating with people is far from guaranteed. Smartwatches with cameras have so far failed to catch on, and Apple has already cornered the high end of the market.