Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has halted development of a smartwatch with a dual camera and is instead working on other wrist devices, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The device, which has been in development for at least two years, is designed to include many features common in other smartwatches, including activity tracking, music playback and messaging.
The now-discontinued prototype includes dual cameras, which is what sets it apart from market leaders like the Apple Watch.
Most smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, currently do not have cameras. As a result, the company had hoped that the presence of two cameras would be an advantage of its wearable device in the competitive market.
One of the cameras was located at the bottom of the screen, and the other on the back side opposite the wearer’s wrist. The second camera is designed so that users can remove the watch face from the strap to quickly snap photos.
But the presence of the camera caused problems with another feature for translating nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands. Having this technical capability, known as electromyography, was a top priority for Meta.
Meta promoted the benefits of electromyography as a way to use a person’s hand as a controller of other devices, including those geared toward metaphysics.
“It’s about decoding those signals at the wrist and translating them into digital commands for your device,” the company said in a blog post published earlier this year.
Company executives discussed the potential of smartwatches as part of its vision for so-called metaverses. Sensors inside wrist devices can be used to help people control their avatar, or interact with what they’re observing through augmented reality glasses, for example.
Despite the discontinuation of the device equipped with a dual camera. But Meta is still developing several other wrist wearable devices.
Meta is still actively working on building other wrist devices
The staff developing the watch, codenamed Milan, was told this week that the device was no longer in production. It was scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2023 at a price of 350 dollars.
It’s also possible that spending cuts played a role in the company’s decision to halt development of the watch. The company’s annual expenses are set to be cut by $3 billion this year given the broader business slowdown, Meta executives said in April.
This has also affected hiring within the company, as some management positions have been suspended or slowed down in recent months. “Reducing costs means prioritizing some projects and efforts over others,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors at the time.
Some of the features developed for the dual-camera watch are likely to appear in future products. The prototype of the device has the following features:
- Removable watch face with a gold-tone outer case.
- The outer shell has two buttons on the side, one long and one small round.
- A 5-megapixel camera is on the front of the watch face and a 12-megapixel camera is on the back of the watch.
- Wireless network, GPS and cellular connectivity via eSIM.
- WhatsApp, Instagram Stories, Spotify, daily activity tracking, workouts, photo gallery, heart rate monitor, calendar, settings and breathing.
- 18 hours of battery life.
The watch also includes an alert center and a lock screen. The device does not have a built-in app store. Instead, users manage apps and features from their Facebook accounts.
The wearer could also post details of their fitness activities or achievements directly to Facebook and Instagram from the device.
The image of the prototype appeared for the first time inside the Meta application for managing Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses. The Milano smart watch is developed by Reality Labs division.