Meta stopped the development of a smartwatch with two built-in cameras, Bloomberg reports. The device – codenamed “Milan” – was reportedly planned to launch in spring 2023 at a price of around $349. Technical issues, as well as general cost cuts at the Meta, are to blame for the cancellation. The existence of the clock had already been reported by On the edge last year.
Most smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, currently don’t have any cameras, so Meta was hoping that the presence of not one, but two cameras could differentiate their wearable in a competitive market. The first would have been a 5-megapixel front camera contained in a small notch on the display for use with video calling, while a 12-megapixel camera placed underneath would be used for taking photos and capturing videos when the watch was unplugged from the wrist.
Meta reportedly ran into problems with this second camera, which interfered with the watch’s ability to pick up nerve signals from the wrist. This is important, because Meta expected the device to not only serve as a regular smartwatch, but also be able to act as a controller for separate augmented reality (AR) glasses and other metaverse initiatives. In a blog post last year, Meta talked about using wrist-mounted devices to pick up nerve signals and use them as digital inputs with a technique known as electromyography.
“The signals through the wrist are so clear that the EMG [electromyography] can understand the finger movement of just one millimeter. That means entry can be easy. Ultimately, it may even be possible to feel just the intention to move a finger,” the company wrote at the time.
The wearable would also have typical smartwatch features such as GPS, cellular connectivity, activity tracking, music playback and integration with Meta services like WhatsApp and Instagram. The team expected the watch to offer 18 hours of battery life on one charge. Since last year, Meta has also been looking to work with other companies to build accessories for the watch that would allow it to be attached to things like backpacks for use as a camera.
Although the development of the watch was canceled, Bloomberg reports that Meta is still working on several other wrist-based devices. It’s part of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to offer more proprietary hardware to consumers and reduce their dependence on users who have to go through Apple and Google to use their services.