According to a new report from The Information, Facebook is developing a smartwatch as part of its ongoing hardware efforts. The device is said to be an Android-based smartwatch, but the article does not state whether Facebook plans to run Google’s Wear OS for the device. It also states that Facebook is working on developing its own hardware device operating system and those future iterations of the wearable may run that software instead.
The smartwatch will have messaging, health, and fitness features, the report says, and as part of the growing hardware ecosystem of the social network, it will join Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets and Portal video chat devices.
Facebook is also working on branded Ray-Ban smart glasses to come out later this year and a separate research programme for augmented reality known as Project Aria, which it has been working on for some time now as part of the company’s wider AR explorations. Facebook refused to comment on any smartwatch projects.
The hardware aspirations of the social networking giant are no mystery. Bloomberg estimated last month that the company has more than 6,000 employees working on different augmented and virtual reality projects and as part of established hardware divisions such as Oculus and Portal, as well as experimental programmes under its Facebook Reality Labs division. And while Facebook has not shown a clear interest in health and fitness equipment in the past, the company has a track record in wearables with its Oculus headsets and upcoming smart glasses.
The neural interface start-up CTRL-Labs was also acquired by Facebook in 2019. Without the need for conventional touchscreen or physical button inputs, CTRL-Labs specialised in building wireless input systems, including devices that could relay electric signals from the brain to computing devices.
The startup’s intellectual property and ongoing research may factor into whatever wearables Facebook builds in the future — including a smartwatch, smart glasses, or future Oculus headsets.