Facebook is taking a new approach to its first smartwatch, which the company has not publicly confirmed, but currently plans to debut next summer. The device will have a display with two cameras that can be separated from the wrist to capture photos and videos that can be shared in the package of Facebook applications, including Instagram, The Verge has learned.
A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calls, while a 1080p, autofocus camera on the back can be used to capture images when detached from the stainless steel wrist frame. Facebook is eavesdropping on other companies to create accessories to attach the camera̵
The idea is to encourage watch owners to use it in the way smartphones are now used. This is part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build more consumer devices that bypass Apple and Google, the two dominant creators of mobile platforms that largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people.
The planned device is Facebook’s first attempt to launch hardware specifically for the wrist, opening up another area of competition with Apple at a time when the two technology giants are already at odds on other fronts. Apple is aggressively positioning itself as a privacy advocate, limiting the types of data that apps like Facebook can collect, while Facebook has been plagued by scandals over user data processing for years. This dynamic could create a tough battle for Facebook to persuade people to buy its upcoming competitor, the Apple Watch, especially since it plans to position the watch as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor.
Facebook is working with the best wireless carriers in the United States to maintain LTE connectivity in the watch, which means it won’t have to pair with a phone to work and sell it in stores, people familiar with the matter said. The watch will be available in white, black and gold, and Facebook hopes to initially sell the volume of the low six digits. That’s a small part of the overall smartwatch market – Apple sold 34 million watches last year for comparison, according to Counterpoint Research.
In future versions of the watch, Facebook plans to serve as a key device for introducing the planned augmented reality glasses, which Zuckerberg believes will one day be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. The company plans to use technology acquired by CTRL Labs, a start-up company that demonstrates 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 generation for the coming years. Officials recently discussed the price of the device at about $ 400, but the price point may change. Although unlikely, Facebook may also remove the watch altogether, as the device has not yet gone into mass production or even received an official name.
Facebook’s reputation for hardware production is tarnished. His 2013 phone with HTC was an impressive failure and has yet to reveal sales of its Oculus VR headset or Portal home video chat device. In recent interviews, executives said that sales of the Oculus Quest 2 headphones have surpassed all previous Oculus headphones combined.
Facebook’s interest in building a smartwatch dates back at least a few years. It is considering the acquisition of Fitbit in 2019, before Google buys the manufacturer of fitness wearable devices. Since then, the social network has spent about $ 1 billion to develop the first version of its watch, and there are hundreds of people working on the effort, according to one person familiar with the matter.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the story. The information previously reported that Facebook is building a smartwatch with health and messaging features, but details about the cameras and other specifics in this story are new.
Using a customized version of Google’s Android operating system, Facebook plans to build on its suite of apps and external partnerships to create a compelling watch experience that will include an accompanying phone app. Even still, wearing a Facebook wrist that you can wear that resonates with people is far from guaranteed. Smartwatches with cameras on them have so far failed to catch on and Apple is already in the corner of the high end of the market.