Meta Halts Development of Smartwatch Carrying Dual Cameras; Plans to Continue Focus on Wrist Wearables: Report
Facebook parent Meta Platforms has halted the development of its first smartwatch carrying dual cameras, according to a report. The smartwatch, said to have codenamed Milan, could have rivalled the Apple Watch with its large display and features including activity tracking, music playback, and messaging. However, unlike the Apple Watch, the device that Meta was reportedly developing for at least two years would offer dual cameras as a key differentiator. One camera would be available below the display, while the other one is said to be on the backside against the wearer’s wrist to let users quickly capture shots by removing the watch face from its strap.
Citing a person familiar with the development, Bloomberg reports that Meta has halted the development of the dual-camera smartwatch and is instead working on other wrist wearables.
Although Meta has not officially commented on the matter, the ongoing cost cutting is likely to be a key reason for the decision to cease the development. The company last month also slowed down its hiring and froze fresh recruitments for the year as some of the other measures to reduce cost burdens.
Bloomberg has shared an image showing the front and back of a prototype of the smartwatch. The second camera on the device is said to have caused issues with a feature that was aimed to translate nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands, which is technically called electromyography (EMG).
In a blog post last year, Meta talked about its smartwatch prototype and indicated that the EMG feature could particularly be used to consider the wrist as a controller for augmented reality (AR) experiences. The prototype was in testing by Meta’s Reality Labs division.
Bloomberg’s report notes that Meta executives discussed the potential of smartwatches as part of its plans to build metaverse, which essentially provides an immersive space where people can interact with others using digital avatars.
In October, Bloomberg published an article about the said smartwatch by Meta alongside showing its render that appeared within the company’s app for controlling its smart glasses.
The news agency at the time suggested that the smartwatch would debut in 2022. However, the latest report mentions that the original target for the release of the device was set for spring 2023. It was planned to be available with a price tag of $349 (roughly Rs. 27,100), according to the report.
Although Meta is said to have discontinued the development of its dual-camera smartwatch, it reportedly still has plans to use some of its features in future products.
The smartwatch is said to have included a gold-coloured casing that had two buttons on one side and dual cameras with a 5-megapixel sensor available at the front and a 12-megapixel one at the back. It is also said to have Wi-Fi, GPS, and eSIM support.
Further, the smartwatch is reported to have apps to access Spotify, WhatsApp, and Instagram Stories as well as features such as daily activity tracking, workouts, photo gallery, heart rate monitoring, calendar, and breathing. It is suggested to have 18 hours of battery life and include a notification centre and lock screen.
Meta did not include an app store on the smartwatch for downloading apps, though users would manage apps and features on the devices using their Facebook account, the report said.
Users are also said to have the ability to post their fitness activities and achievements to Facebook and Instagram directly from the device.