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According to a recent report from The Information, Facebook is secretly building a smartwatch as part of its ongoing hardware projects. The device is said to be an Android-based smartwatch and will launch next year. However, the report does not say whether Facebook wants the gadget to run on Google’s Wear OS. The report also revealed that Facebook is working on building its parent operating system for hardware devices, and the future iterations of the wearable may run on that software instead.
The smartwatch would have health, fitness, and messaging features. It would join Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets and Portal video chat devices as part of the social platform’s hardware ecosystem. And although Facebook has not expressed a strong interest in health and fitness devices in the past, the company does have a track record in wearables with its Oculus headsets and forthcoming smart glasses.
Facebook is also working on branded Ray-Ban smart glasses, which are expected to launch later this year, and a separate augmented reality research initiative known as Project Aria. The Project Aria is part of Facebook’s broader AR explorations it has been working on for some time now, but it has no plans to commercialize the project.
Although Facebook has declined to comment about the planned smartwatch projects, its hardware ambitions are no longer a secret to the entire tech community. Apart from working its digital currency, the company has more than 6,000 employees working on various virtual reality projects and working as part of the already-existing hardware divisions like Oculus, Portal, and Reality Labs division.
Facebook also acquired the neural interface startup known as CTRL-Labs in 2019. CTRL-Labs specialized in building wireless input mechanisms, including devices that could transmit electrical signals from the brain to computing devices without requiring physical button inputs or a traditional touchscreen. The startup’s intellectual prowess and ongoing research may also contribute to building Facebook’s future wearables—including a smartwatch, smart glasses, or future Oculus headsets.