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Facebook parent company Meta announced that production of its dual-camera smartwatch to rival Apple Watch was no longer viable.
Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: FB) has discontinued development on a smartwatch that was supposed to rival the Apple Watch. The smartwatch had a slew of technological advancements and was in development for two years. One of these cutting-edge features was dual-camera functionality, with one camera below the display and another at the back. The plan was for a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and one with 12 megapixels at the rear.
According to Meta, the second camera’s design was to facilitate a user’s need for a quick photo. The user would only need to remove the watch from its strap. However, the presence of the second rear-mounted watch camera was affecting the operability of another feature. Known as electromyography, the impacted feature supports translating nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands.
Meta had intended for electromyography to be a top priority showcase of its now-discontinued watch line. This is because the technology resonated strongly with the company’s overarching metaverse-related goals and aspirations. A Meta blog post from earlier this year touched on the novelty of using a person’s hands as a “controller” for other devices:
“[Electromyography] is about decoding those signals at the wrist – the actions you’ve already decided to perform – and translating them into digital commands for your device,”
Other industry-standard features of the Meta Apple Watch rival comprise activity tracking, music playback, and messaging. According to a product prototype, other features include WiFi functionality, built-in Spotify, and GPS. Furthermore, the halted Meta watch boasted users around 18 hours of battery life.
Meta May Yet Produce Another Rival to Apple Watch as Part of Its Metaverse Vision
Codenamed Milan, the discontinued Meta Watch would have debuted in the spring of 2023 at a suggested retail price of $349. However, despite not proceeding with the smartwatch’s development, Meta says it is still actively working on other wrist devices. In fact, some of the standout features of the dual-camera watch may still appear in the company’s future wrist products. So far, Meta has not provided details on the proposed wrist products.
Meta executives previously addressed the potential of smartwatches as a critical enabling component of its metaverse vision. The Facebook parent envisions people controlling their avatars in this prodigious digital environment with wrist-controlled sensors. Furthermore, Meta also suggested that users may also be able to interact with their environments using augmented reality glasses.
Meta’s Reality Labs division was tasked with developing the Meta “Milan” smartwatch before the discontinuation. The division mostly works on Meta’s long-term bets and plays a leading role in building Meta’s metaverse.
Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously hinted at the financial strain of investing heavily in the metaverse. According to him, Meta’s metaverse ambitions could mean losing a lot of money in the short term.