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Facebook Developing Smartwatch with AR Control

Facebook could soon become even further entrenched in your everyday life, with the company developing a new smartwatch that, according to reports, could go on sale sometime next year.

The new device would add to The Social Network’s growing hardware line, which now includes its Portal video calling device, its Oculus VR range, and will soon also count its coming AR glasses.

According to The Verge, the new Facebook watch will include two cameras, with users able to detach the watch face in order to take pictures and videos on the go, that could then be easily shared across Facebook and Instagram

As per The Verge:

“A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. Facebook is tapping other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to things like backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity to speak without Facebook’s permission.”

Rumors of a Facebook watch have been circulating for some time, but the latest info appears to be the most solid insight yet as to what we can expect.

And there may be an even more interesting wrinkle to the in-development project.

While Facebook hasn’t confirmed the reports, as such, the company’s head of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth did respond to The Verge’s article on Twitter, saying that: 

“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.”

Facebook revealed its research into wrist-based controls for AR earlier this year, which would involve a watch-like device that’s able to read muscle commands as they travel through your arm, which it could then translate into triggers to respond within the digital environment.

The process utilizes EMG, or electromyography, which translates electrical motor nerve signals via sensors that detect such as they travel through your limbs.

It seems that Facebook’s watch will be about much more than just telling the time, and with the concurrent development of its AR glasses, it may end up being a far more significant device than many had anticipated.

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. Non-intrusive, adaptive controls for such will be key, so it makes sense for Facebook to be factoring this into its coming watch device – however, Bosworth did further note that it may take some time to develop this next stage. 

“Research doesn’t always lead to product development. Productizing these forms of input – for AR glasses or others – happens on parallel paths and in multiple iterations.”

Which seems somewhat in line with the plan outlined in The Verge’s report, which suggests that Facebook is planning to sell an initial, basic, non-AR linked version of its smartwatch next Summer, for around $400 per unit, before eventually building the new, AR control features into later iterations.

Either way, it will be another way for Facebook to gather user data, and could become a crucial connector for the next stage of digital connectivity.

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