Facebook is taking a new approach to its first smartwatch, which the company has not publicly confirmed, but is currently planning to debut next summer. The device has a screen with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist to take photos and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s app suite, including Instagram, That The edge have learned.
A camera on the front of the watch screen is available primarily for video calls, while a 1080p autofocus camera on the back can be used to record shots when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. Facebook is tapping other companies to create accessories to attach the camera hub to things like backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, who both requested anonymity to speak without Facebook̵
The idea is to encourage watch owners to use it in ways that smartphones are used now. It’s part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build more consumer devices that bypass Apple and Google, the two dominant mobile phone platform creators that largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people.
The planned device is Facebook’s first effort to release 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 with other fronts. Apple has aggressively positioned itself as a privacy protector by limiting the kind of data that apps like Facebook can collect, while Facebook has for years been besieged by scandals regarding the handling of user data. This dynamic could create an upward battle for Facebook to convince people to buy its upcoming Apple Watch competitor, especially as it also plans to place the watch as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor.
Facebook is working with the top wireless operators in the US to support LTE connectivity in the watch, which means it does not have to be paired with a phone to work and sell it in their stores, said the people familiar with the matter . The watch comes in white, black and gold, and Facebook initially hopes to sell volume in the low six figures. That’s a tiny bit of the total smartwatch market – Apple sold 34 million watches last year for comparison, according to Counterpoint Research.
In future versions of the watch, Facebook plans to act as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses, which Zuckerberg believes will one day be as ubiquitous as cell phones. The company plans to use technology, the one acquired from CTRL-labs, a startup that has demonstrated wristbands 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 generation in the following years. Employees have recently discussed pricing the device at around $ 400, but the price point may change. While unlikely, Facebook may also scrape the clock completely, as the device has yet to go into mass production or even get an official name.
Facebook’s track record for manufacturing hardware is tarnished. Its 2013 phone with HTC was a spectacular flop, and it has yet to announce the sale of its Oculus VR headsets or Portal video chat device 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 building a smartwatch goes back at least a few years. It looked at acquiring Fitbit in 2019 before Google bought the fitness portable manufacturer. Since then, the social network has used approx. 1 billion $ To develop the first version of his watch and have hundreds of people working on the effort, according to one of the people who are familiar with the matter.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment for this story. The information previously reported that Facebook built a smartwatch with health and messaging features, but details about its cameras and other details in this story are new.
Using a custom version of Google’s Android operating system, Facebook plans to lean on its suite of apps and external partnerships to create compelling experiences for the watch, which will include an accompanying app for phones. Even still, Facebook’s portable wrists that resonate with people are far from guaranteed. Smartwatches with cameras on them have so far not been able to capture, and Apple has already cornered the high end of the market.