Facebook is reportedly putting together an Android-based smartwatch with messaging, health and fitness features. It is set to land next year.
This is according to an article in The Information which quotes four “people with direct knowledge of the device”. Apparently, this is the search giant’s effort to gain an entry into what is expected to be one of the next computing platforms after smartphones.
Facebook smartwatch – what we know
Social media has come to play a central role in many people’s lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they are not going away anytime soon.
Most smartwatches come with some social media integration. Typically this ends with app notifications on your wrist. But it looks like it will soon go further.
Facebook is looking to come out with a smartwatch of its own. Apparently, the device will initially run on Google’s Wear OS. At a later stage this will be replaced with Facebook’s proprietary operating system for hardware devices.
As you’d expect, such a watch will have messaging features. Other functionality is set to include “quick interactions” with other Facebook users.
The social media giant’s device will also pack health and fitness features. Exactly what kind, it is not clear yet. We would be surprised if it introduces anything new in this area but you never know.
Facebook has a health technology patent that was registered recently. It is about incorporating EMG (Electromyography) sensors into wearables. For those not in the know, EMG is a process for detecting and processing the electrical signals generated by muscle activity. However, the patent is more about using the tech to control content displayed on electronic displays.
The company has also acquired the neural interface startup CTRL-Labs back in 2019.
“Bigger picture to this watch: FB bought CTRL-labs for roughly $1b in 2019, which was making an armband that can interpret brain signals to control computer interfaces. FB hopes to eventually build that tech into the watch to control its future AR glasses.” writes Alexa Health from The Information.
All of this hints that the device will mostly about smart functionality and integration with social media and Facebook hardware. Health and fitness features are likely to be limited.
This is not Facebook’s first venture into hardware. It acquired Oculus in 2014 so has a significant presence in the virtual reality consumer headset space. Then there are its Portal devices which offer video chat with Alexa integration. Finally, Facebook is also looking to bring to market Ray-Ban branded smart glasses later this year.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Do we really need a watch from Facebook? Perhaps not, but it looks like we are getting one. Hopefully such a device would go further than simply providing deeper Facebook integration.
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