Last year, leaked photos of Meta’s smartwatch with camera did the rounds. But the product may never come to light: According to a report in Bloomberg, Facebook’s parent company has shut down development.
The report doesn’t give a reason for the reversal, but in April, the tech giant said it lost $3 billion in the first quarter on metaverse development.
For years, Meta (and before that, Facebook) has been looking for a hardware path to diversify its business and achieve a more vertically integrated approach to building tech products, akin to Apple and Google.
While Facebook-owned Oculus has produced the company’s biggest hardware hits, the watch is the latest in a series of stops and starts in Facebook’s hardware efforts. Others include an ill-fated attempt to break into smartphones, the Portal screen, and a years-long effort with glasses (still not launched).
One reason for the shift may also be due to design issues. Bloomberg said a prototype of the watch had two cameras: a five megapixel one on the front and a rather oddly placed 12 megapixel camera on the back.
The company wanted to use electromyography and convert nerve signals into digital commands, which could be useful in games and virtual world experiences. But the second camera proved to be an impediment to that feature and the company decided to stop developing it.
Meta had aimed to release the watch next year with a price tag of $349.
According to photos and videos of the prototype, apart from the camera, the smartwatch had features that are now fairly standard for smartwatches and wearables on the wrist, such as activity tracking, notifications and mobile connectivity via eSIM. The device, codenamed Milan, is said to have a battery life of 18 hours.
This isn’t the end of the line for some of the technology that built it, it seems. Bloomberg’s report suggested Meta is still working on other wearables on the wrist. The company showed a prototype AR controller last year – before renaming itself Meta – that could be worn on your wrist.
Meta declined to comment on the story.