Meta drops smartwatch project, but continues to work on a Metaverse wristband
According to a report, Meta is discontinuing its smartwatch project, but wrist input devices are still in the works.
There have been rumors for more than a year that Meta is working on a smartwatch. The watch is supposed to work with or without smartphone connectivity, for example as a fitness tracker, and could also function as an input device for AR and VR headsets.
Technical problems with Meta’s USP
According to Bloomberg, Meta has since halted development of the “Milan” smartwatch, which has two built-in cameras. A 5-megapixel lens on the prototype films in the direction of the watch wearer, while a 12-megapixel lens is mounted on the back of the watch. The watch can be removed from the wristband and the back can then be used like a camera.
However, the cameras are said to have caused problems with Meta’s real unique selling point – electromyography. This involves hardware on the wrist measuring electrical impulses from the brain and converting them into computer commands. The technology comes from startup CTRL-Labs, which Meta bought in 2019, and is a “top priority” at Meta, according to Bloomberg.
Milan was in development at Meta’s Metaverse division Reality Labs and should have launched in spring 2023 for $349.
Meta is on a cost-cutting course
Meta announced initial cost-cutting measures following a recent decline in earnings growth and stock performance. Among other things, the group wants to hire new staff more slowly and stop some projects in the particularly cost-intensive Reality Labs. The Milan smartwatch might have fallen victim to these cost-cutting measures.
However, this does not mean that the Metaverse wristband is off the table. According to Bloomberg, Meta is still working on hardware for the wrist.
A prototype of a pure electromyography wristband is supposed to work well and has the potential to replace a mouse and keyboard, according to a recent report from The Verge journalist Alex Heath. A former Meta employee was extremely positive: “If CTRL-Labs works, none of this other stuff needs to matter,” the former employee told Heath.