Meta is allegedly putting its long-dormant smartwatch back into production, as it ramps up a plan to use a smartwatch to control and interface with its upcoming AR glasses.
Meta has long harbored ambitions of creating one of the best smartwatches in the business, but we thought its plans had been put on hold for the time being. In November 2022, Reuters reported Meta was winding down its development of two unreleased smartwatches and other hardware projects such as the Portal.
However, according to the Verge’s Alex Heath, who has reportedly seen an internal presentation road mapping Meta’s next four years of releases, the smartwatch will be closely linked to the AR glasses Meta has been developing. These smart glasses will overlay digital information over your view of the real world and will be connected to the smartwatch, which has been described as a “neural interface” to help you control the flow of information being piped into your eyes.
The smartwatch and AR glasses are said to be available for Meta employees to test in 2024, eyeing a general release in 2027. The smartwatch will also have health and fitness features and interface with meta’s social media apps, although no more information is given in the report.
Noted leaker Kuba Wojciechowski also posted last month, claiming Meta’s smartwatch was back on the table. It’s a leak that now has more credence thanks to the Verge report.
Leak: A new version of the @Meta smartwatch is in development, new details and photos below👇 pic.twitter.com/mlEgEQvWp5January 31, 2023
Before it was canned, Meta’s undeveloped smartwatch reportedly contained a camera and a removable screen, presumably so you could lift the watch to your face and conduct video calls through it. That functionality seems to have been incorporated into the AR glasses, keeping the watch as an optional control.
Analysis: Meta’s failing mission for constant connection
How much appetite is there going to be for this? Meta’s constant drive to connect us all seems at odds with the emerging trend for wearables to not be quite as intrusive as they once were.
From smart rings like Samsung’s latest gadget to screenless and hybrid watches, ‘invisible’ wearables seem to be the direction the industry is heading. Gen Z, who have grown up being constantly connected, are leaning towards retro technologies and aesthetics to get away from it all. Do we really want ads beamed into our eyes like some sort of dystopic Black Mirror sketch?
Meta, which for years has made the lion’s share of its money by selling ads based on the preferences of its users, might want that for our future, but I don’t think it’s a sentiment shared by the market.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but based on the way the industry seems to be heading, this feels like more of the same hubris that causes Zuckerberg and co. to sink billions of dollars into the Metaverse, despite severe resistance and an extremely slow adoption rate amongst its customers.