First image of Facebook’s upcoming health & messaging WearOS watch

We now have an image of Facebook’s upcoming smartwatch. This is a rumoured WearOS device with messaging, health and fitness features and at least one camera. It is set to land in the Summer of 2022.

The first information on the timepiece was published at the start of 2021 in an article by The Information. This quotes four “people with direct knowledge of the device”. Apparently, the watch represents the search giant’s effort to gain an entry into what is expected to be one of the next computing platforms after smartphones.

An article in the Verge over the summer has provided some more clues on what to expect. And now we have the first pic. What follows is a recap of all we have learned so far.

Facebook smartwatch – what we know

Social media has come to play a central role in many people’s lives. For better or worse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they are not going away anytime soon.

Most smartwatches come with some sort of social media integration. Typically this ends with app notifications on your wrist. But things may change soon.

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 than health.

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.

Two cameras – one detacheable for photo and video taking

The Verge has added some information of its own. They spoke to two people familiar with the project who chose to remain annonomous.

According to these sources, the upcoming watch will feature two cameras. The camera located on the front of the watch display is meant for video calls. Another other camera will be positioned on the back. That one is detacheable and comes with 1080p, auto-focus for capturing quality photo and video footage.

The idea here is to have a watch that users will be able to utilize for media capturing and sharing on Facebook and Instagram. Sources say that other companies will be encouraged to create accessories for things like packpacks for attaching the camera.

This is partially confirmed by the first image of the watch. It was found inside the company’s iPhone app for controlling its newly launched Ray-Ban glasses (via Bloombergg News).

The picture shows a device with rounded edges and a front-facing camera at the bottom of the display. Presumably, that’s the one for video calls. There’s a single physical button on the watch that can be seen on the right-hand side and possibly another one at the top of the case.

The Facebook watch also has what looks to be a detachable wrist strap. The display looks very large but the device itself appears to be more about functionality than style.

Our take on a possible Facebook watch

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 will go further than simply providing deeper Facebook integration.

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