Facebook is reportedly in the process of developing a new smartwatch, adding to the social platform’s collection of smart technology and wearables, which currently consists of its Portal video-calling hub and forthcoming AR glasses.
“Facebook’s entry into the wearables space is inevitable considering their business model pivots around collecting user profile data and building a richer social or knowledge graph to attract more advertisers,” said Neil Shah, VP of research at Counterpoint Research. “The wrist is one of the most interesting spaces after the smartphone to gain user’s physiological health and fitness data.”
How Will Facebook’s New Smartwatch Work?
Facebook’s new smartwatch – slated for release during Summer 2022 – will consist of two cameras within the wearable device. The front camera is built primarily for video calls, while the second camera is similar to that of a GoPro or a standard mobile device, with the option to be detached from the watch face “in order to take pictures and videos on the go, that could then be easily shared across Facebook and Instagram.” According to The Verge reporter Alex Heath, “Facebook is working with the top wireless carriers in the U.S. to support LTE [long term evolution] connectivity in the watch, meaning it won’t need to be paired with a phone to work.”
Later versions of the Facebook smartwatch will reportedly allow users to sync their watches with the planned Facebook AR glasses and may also include a fitness element, similar to other wearable devices, acting as a heart rate monitor that will “connect to fitness services like Peloton and Strava via its own 4G connection.”
While Facebook has not shared many details on the upcoming smartwatch, Facebook’s head of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth teased the new product alongside details of the social platform’s growing AR efforts. In a recent tweet, he reported, “We’ve said we want AR glasses to be truly useful — we’re investing in technologies across the board that will make that interaction feel more natural and intuitive. This includes research like EMG, haptics, adaptive interfaces that could come together in a wrist-based form factor.”
Why Is Facebook Developing A New Smartwatch & How Will It Tie Into Facebook’s Coming AR Initiatives?
The creation of the Facebook smartwatch puts Facebook in the ring with fellow leaders in the smartwatch and wearable space, like Apple. “The idea is to encourage owners of the watch to use it in ways that smartphones are used now,” noted Heath. “It’s part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build more consumer devices that circumvent Apple and Google, the two dominant mobile phone platform creators that largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people.”
The potential link between its smartwatch and growing AR offerings, however, is an opportunity for Facebook to set itself apart from the crowd, and something the social platform has been researching since earlier this year. Facebook recently shared the potential positive impacts of creating more seamless interactions through “wrist-based controls for AR,” by launching what it calls a “watch-like device” that can “read muscle commands as they travel through your arm, which it could then translate into triggers to respond within the digital environment.”
With the launch of its new smartwatch and plans for further iterations of the wearable device in the future, Facebook will likely obtain considerable consumer data that will be valuable when seeking new avenues to reach audiences digitally.
How Will Facebook’s New Smartwatch & Larger AR Push Impact Digital Advertisers?
While the world of AR wearables is still very much in its early stages, advertisers should prepare for a shift toward wearable technology as a means of reaching consumers and attracting consumer engagement. The demand for and evolution of AR and VR content among consumers and brands is expected to grow, with a recent report from Facebook sharing that “75% of all business owners expect to be utilizing AR and VR technology in the next two years, while global spending on AR and VR is set to rise 6x.” The report also revealed that, among those surveyed, “78% consider AR a fun way to interact with brands.”
“AR is gaining momentum fast, with predictions that it will soon become a key connective component, helping to merge our on and offline worlds even further, and provide increased utility in a range of ways,” said Hutchinson. “Non-intrusive, adaptive controls for such will be key, so it makes sense for Facebook to be factoring this into its coming watch device.”
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