We could have had some exciting competition in the wearable realm. Bloomberg says that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, just halted development on a smartwatch with dual cameras in favor of another kind of wearable. It was planned for release in spring 2023, with a price point of around $350, which would have made it more expensive than the current Android Wear OS watches on the market. And it’s not the only thing Meta’s shuffling around— The Information reports that its new headsets are also being delayed.
The device was in development for about two years and was designed with typical watch features in mind, namely messaging, activity tracking, and music playback—all things you can do with both Android and Apple smartwatches. It had a removable watch face with a gold-colored casing—very retro-looking, if you ask me. The prototype also had dual cameras, which the Apple Watch has been rumored to be playing around with. One 5-MP camera was below the display, and another 12-MP camera was on the backside against the wrist.
The idea behind the cameras was that you could flip off the watch and snap a photo without having to search around for your smartphone to capture the moment. But the camera “caused issues with another feature for translating nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
The feature is related to Meta’s electromyography programming, which it heralds as a way to use your hand as a controller—it’s a very “metaverse” sort of concept, and it seems like this smartwatch was supposed to be something that could exist with you in both the physical and digital worlds.
Meta is still working on wearables, but this one, codenamed Milan, is seemingly no longer for this world. Meta was also working on native apps for the wearable, including Spotify, WhatsApp, and Instagram Stories.
Another Meta hardware project is also seeing the chopping block before making it to the public. The Information reports that Meta is delaying the 2024 launch of a pair of Meta AR glasses. Dubbed Project Nazare, Meta’s now canceled first attempt at official Meta glasses looked like a pair of Rivers Cuomo-styled glasses with AR baked underneath. Nazare will supposedly continue as a demonstration project to help work the kinks out of what would have been launched as a second-generation successor, Artemis. Artemis will now likely be Meta’s debut set of glasses, and will probably hit the market after 2024.
This is a different project from the recently rumored Project Cambria, which The Information described last month as a “laptop for your face.”
Finally, the last bit of news from Meta’s hardware camp, it appears that Portal will also undergo a bit of change. This is according to the same report from The Information, though it was also verified earlier today by several other outlets.
Despite the neat ability to cart around a video chat with devices like the Portal Go, Meta will no longer make consumer-oriented smart displays. Instead, it will focus on marketing it as a business product to help with hybrid work environments.
It’s an interesting move considering that the sales of Meta’s smart displays have had a 30% increase via IDC. But that was only 1% of overall smart display sales. Google and Amazon lead the market with their respective devices, so Meta’s pivot to the enterprise makes sense.