Meta reportedly developing AI-powered earbuds with built-in cameras

Meta reportedly developing AI-powered earbuds with built-in cameras

According to a new report, Meta is working on earphones with an integrated AI assistant and cameras, but the design has yet to be finalized.

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Mark Zuckerberg reviewed several designs but was not satisfied with any of them, writes The Information, citing an internal source. It is unclear whether the final design will be in-ear earbuds or over-the-ear headphones, but internally the project is called "Camerabuds". The website spoke to several current employees.

Zuckerberg and CTO Andrew Bosworth are said to believe that competitors are developing AI-powered earbuds with cameras. There are statements and reports that OpenAI and Apple are doing research in this direction.

The report mentions several use cases for the earphones: They could map the environment, identify objects, translate languages, or take 360-degree photos. One potential use case not mentioned in the report, but also obvious, is body tracking for virtual reality.

The timeline is unclear, as the final design has not yet been finalized.

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The Information also writes that Meta has been exploring the possibility of developing earphones since at least 2019, documenting various efforts in that direction. Meta did not comment on the report.

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Finding the ideal AI wearable

With the hype around chatbots and AI assistants generated by ChatGPT, Meta is increasingly looking for a suitable hardware form factor for such technology. One possible candidate are smart glasses or AR glasses. Ray-Ban Meta Smartglasses already offer multimodal Meta AI capabilities in North America.

It makes sense for Meta to explore other hardware directions. It is not clear that smart glasses will be a mainstream success, and earbuds are already a widely accepted wearable. Other attempts to establish dedicated AI hardware, such as the Humane AI Pin and the Rabbit R1, have not yet been successful.

Sources: The Information (Paywall)