Do you own a Facebook Portal smart display? Chances are, your answer is no. Do you own an Oculus VR headset? Those chances are better, but still likely no.
Why is that?
Some might argue that Facebook doesn’t sell as many hardware products because they aren’t as established as their competitors in their respective markets. Amazon and Google are the clear dominant players in smart home tech, for instance. When it comes to VR, many people have yet to find a compelling reason to use it, so plenty of Oculus VR headsets remain in boxes.
However, others have reasons that go beyond personal preferences and use cases. Some argue that privacy concerns are the driving force behind their purchasing decisions, and these people know that Facebook doesn’t have the greatest reputation for keeping your personal information private. With so many different scandals and controversies pegging the company, it makes sense for a chunk of its userbase to remain paranoid, wondering whether their personal data is just out there for the taking.
So why not give Facebook access to your personal information using one of the most personal devices you could own – a smartwatch with cameras?
The Verge got the scoop on an upcoming wearable from Facebook that will apparently be their first smartwatch. It’ll go head-to-head with the likes of the Apple Watch, Fitbit, Samsung’s Galaxy Wear line, and whatever else Google can cook up with its revamp of Wear OS. It’s said to be launching next summer.
Of course, it’ll be different from what’s currently on the market, for better or worse. The Verge says the watch will have a set of dual cameras: one will be detachable from the stainless steel body of the watch, while the other will be mounted in the bezel for video calls. Both will be able to record video, and the detachable sensor will even sync directly to Facebook for easy uploading.
Do you see where the privacy concerns come into play? Facebook wants you to strap not one, but two cameras to your body so it can send data to share publicly on your Facebook profile. If you’re at all paranoid about Facebook and its security risks, this watch definitely doesn’t seem like a good fit for you.
The wearable will also track your fitness and health data, because obviously it will. The Verge says it’ll come with a heart rate sensor and other tracking tools to rival competitors on a more even playing field. The watch will run on some form of Android, and Facebook reportedly hopes it’ll eventually serve as an extension of its upcoming AR glasses that can be controlled by hand gestures recorded by the watch.
The Verge says Facebook employees are shooting for a $400 price point, but that could change significantly. It’ll come in three colors: white, black, and gold. Cellular models will also be sold through major US carriers with who Facebook’s actively seeking partnerships.
It’s difficult to say how popular a smartwatch from one of the most controversial technology companies in history can become. For one, consumer trust in Facebook remains spotty due to the privacy concerns I mentioned earlier (just go read reactions to this news on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean). Second, Apple has dominated the wearable space for years with the Apple Watch, one of the most popular watches in the entire world. It’s unlikely someone like Facebook could swoop in overnight and create a viable threat for the Cupertino company.
And then there’s the chance it could just suck. The watch won’t be as tightly integrated into your phone’s ecosystem as something like an Apple or Wear OS watch, and it’s unclear how dedicated Facebook is to supporting it in the long run. The Verge does point out Facebook has sequels lined up, but those plans can always change.
I don’t think anyone will avoid buying an Apple Watch because the Facebook Watch is coming. But I am saying the conversation around privacy and wearable technology will begin boiling up in the near future as Facebook’s plans begin falling into place. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this subject as time progresses, so stay tuned.