Privacy worry or novel device? Facebook’s upcoming smartwatch will reportedly include two detachable cameras and a heart rate monitor
Facebook will reportedly introduce its smartwatch in the summer of 2022, and it will feature two detachable cameras, in a move that will not lessen privacy concerns about the device.
The Facebook smartwatch has so far not been publicly confirmed by firm, but in February the Information reported the watch device would run a version of Google’s open source Android operating system, and would come with messaging and health features, before going on sale in 2022.
Facebook is also developing a wristband that reads neural signals to give a new way for users to interact with its planned Augmented Reality (AR) glasses.
But Facebook’s smartwatch reportedly looks to offer something different compared to other smartwatch devices from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others.
Facebook’ first smartwatch will feature a display with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist for taking pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s suite of apps, including Instagram, the Verge reportedly learned.
The camera on the front of the watch display will reportedly mostly be used for video calling, but on the back there will be a 1080p, auto-focus camera that can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist.
Facebook is reportedly approaching other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to other items such as backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity.
Facebook essentially wants the watch owners to use the device like they currently use a smartphone.
The Verge said this was part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build more consumer devices that circumvent Apple and Google.
Facebook is reportedly working with US carriers to support LTE (5G) connectivity in the watch, meaning it won’t need to be paired with a phone to work, and sell it in their stores, the people familiar with the matter told The Verge.
The watch will come in white, black, and gold, and Facebook has modest expectations, hoping to initially sell volume in the low six figures, well below sales numbers of rival devices from Apple etc.
In future versions of the watch, Facebook is planning for it 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 Verge reported.
But Facebook will have some challenges going forward.
First off, Facebook will have to overcome user concerns about its data collection habits. Apple for example is positioning itself as a privacy champion, and the Apple Watch will provide some formidable opposition.
And Facebook’s hopes to bypass both Apple and Google could also run into difficulties, if it opts to use a version of Google’s Android operating system for example.
And finally there is Facebook’s track record with hardware.
While Facebook has had some success with its Oculus virtual reality headsets, it has also has some failures.
In 2013 the HTC First phone was cancelled in Europe, following the poor US response to Facebook Home, the social media interface it ran.
And Facebook’s range of Portal portfolio of video-calling devices are competing against established players Amazon Echo’s smart devices and Google Home smart speakers.