Meta scraps dual-camera Apple Watch rival; Cites cost cuts, technological challenges

During the company’s April earnings call, Meta Platforms executives said annual expenses would be cut by $3 billion this year given the broader business slowdown.

Facebook watch
Despite the dual-camera smartwatch being halted, Meta Platforms continues to work on multiple other wrist devices. (Bloomberg)

Meta Platforms has halted development of a smartwatch with dual cameras, turning its attention to other devices for the wrist, Bloomberg reported.

The device, which had been in development for two years, was designed to include several common smartwatch features, including music playback, activity tracking, and messaging. A prototype of the device includes dual-cameras— a key differentiator from the Apple Watch, the market leader. One camera was located below the display and the other on the backside. Bloomberg has seen images and a video of the prototype.

The second camera was designed in a manner that would allow wearers to remove the watch face from its strap to take quick pictures. But the presence of the camera caused issues with translating nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands, a person aware of developments told Bloomberg. That technical ability — electromyography — is a top priority for Meta Platforms.

The Facebook owner has touted electromyography’s benefits as a way of using a person’s hands as a “controller” for other devices. “This is about decoding those signals at the wrist — the actions you’ve already decided to perform — and translating them into digital commands for your device,” Meta said in a blog post earlier this year.

Meta chiefs have discussed the potential for smartwatches in their vision for the metaverse, an immersive Internet where people can interact with other users as digital avatars. Sensors in these devices can be used to help people control their avatar.

Despite the dual-camera smartwatch being halted, Meta Platforms continues to work on multiple other wrist devices. The company’s executives earlier this week told employees working on the watch, codenamed Milan, that the device was no longer on track for production. It was originally set for a spring 2023 release at a price point of $349, the Bloomberg report said, citing sources.

Cost cuts are also likely to have played a role in the decision to halt development of the watch. During the company’s April earnings call, Meta Platforms executives said annual expenses would be cut by $3 billion this year given the broader business slowdown. The broader slowdown has also hit hiring at the company, where filling some management roles has either been paused or slowed in recent months.

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