Meta Band with dual cameras makes video chats and vlogging the center of your metaverse experience
Meta’s first stake in the Metaverse may not be a VR headset (even though the company killed off the Oculus brand and quickly named it Meta), but a smartwatch that could make you waste more time in the video chats, vlogging and, of course, VR.
Even before Zucerberg’s Facebook rebranded itself to proclaim its newfound obsession, the social media giant was already rumored to have its eyes on the wearables market. Its focus on the Metaverse might have seemed to abandon those plans, but, instead, its vision for a smartwatch would fit right in with that. Meta recently got a patent it shows his vision for such a wearable, and, unsurprisingly, it’s going to be more about staying in touch than keeping time.
Meta’s idea for a smartwatch goes completely against most industry conventions, which is pretty typical for patent applications. It looks like the company has yet to decide whether it will be aiming for a typical round smartwatch or a square one that is sure to earn Apple’s ire. Whichever design you choose, the hardware feature set remains the same. There’s at least one camera on its face, similar to the rumors that abounded last year about a square Facebook smartwatch, but that’s not the most exciting part of Meta’s smartwatch.
The shape of the smartwatch itself is already atypical. While the screen has a square design like the Apple Watch, its body is a bit more oblong if not rectangular. The case extends to the side and gently tapers where the strap cords exit (more on that later). The body has a minimalist aesthetic that’s nearly devoid of any branding, and the only noticeable flaw in this design is the dreaded notch that houses a tiny camera inside.
Having a front-facing camera is right up there with a company known to capitalize on any opportunity to be social. Back when it was still Facebook, it launched its first line of smart display products, and Portal was clearly designed for video chats via Messenger. In addition to simple social media posts, Meta has doubled down on real-time communication channels, especially in recent years where video chats have become essential in preventing human civilization from collapsing.
So a Meta or Facebook-branded smartwatch with this basic functionality wouldn’t be so far-fetched, but that might just be the tip of the iceberg. Rather than straining people’s arms on video calls, it looks like Meta thought of a way to make those conversations fun again. And it all starts with another camera on the watch.
Are two really better than one?
According to rumor machine, the Meta Watch will have a second camera on the back that would have almost the same capabilities as the one on the back of your phone. This means that it would be able to record Full HD 1080p video, either for recording or for video calling and even have an autofocus system. Of course, that camera will be completely useless if it only sees the back of your wrist, and that’s where the other unique or almost incredulous ‘feature’ of this smartwatch comes in.
You’ll be able to detach the smartwatch from your wrist, or at least from the frame that magnetically holds the body in place. This frees up that second camera for proper use, turning the watch screen into a viewfinder. It’s a terribly inefficient camera, you might be wondering, especially when you have a better camera tucked away in your pocket. This might miss the point, however, because you have to see it from the eyes of a company that has built its fortune by keeping people connected or by keeping them addicted to sharing things on its network.
Detached from the confines of your wrist, the Meta Watch easily becomes a rival to the GoPro, something you probably wouldn’t want to use your phone for. Action cameras aren’t exactly known for high resolution displays or even high resolution cameras. They’re best known for being small and almost inconspicuous, ready to capture the action (hence the name) anytime, anywhere. Meta’s smartwatch will allow Facebook users to easily record video or live stream without having to pull out their phone, especially in circumstances where owning a $1,700 electronic device would be a tempting fate.
This dual-camera setup could also go beyond simple video chats or streaming. Smartphones these days are able to use the rear and front cameras at the same time, often with the front camera’s video feed displayed as an inset on the viewfinder. A smartwatch screen is too cramped for this kind of interface, but the functionality could still be there. Imagine talking with a friend or family, then pulling out the watch to give them a better view of the scenic lake in front of your vacation cabin. How’s that for FOMO?
Video chats, action cuts, live streams, and vlogging all have equal chances on a smartwatch with two cameras, especially one you can pop out of its base. The design seems a bit ridiculous at first, but it won’t take long to realize just how much Meta can do to achieve its goal of bringing people together, which really means getting those people to use its products and services.
It’s all in the wrist
Meta’s patent doesn’t exactly talk about the design of the smartwatch strap other than the base that holds the watch itself in place. Often straps are just an afterthought and only come into play when it comes to comfort. But it’s also a great opportunity for innovation, as designer Sarang Sheth illustrates.
Rather than the typical watch strap, the designer envisioned Meta using elastic paracord that runs across the top and bottom of the smartwatch’s body, creating a full loop. The material is no less comfortable than a leather, steel or silicone strap. Indeed, this more open design allows the skin to breathe better, reducing the risk of skin irritation.
The most ingenious part of this strap design, however, is how it opens up the smartwatch to more uses without the need to buy any accessories. Simply slide the body to one end and you can wear the Meta Watch as a pocket watch. It might even be possible to hang or wrap the watch on another object for an ad hoc action camera setup.
There might even be opportunities here to add metaverse flavor to the strap design. Something that may look as simple as a loop of cord can look fantastic when viewed through digital eyes, allowing for customizations that wouldn’t be possible in the physical realm. There could be a market for such virtual designs, perhaps even sold exclusively through NFT.
Even with its sleek design, however, this type of bracelet displays a uniqueness that matches the minimalist design of the body. There’s also a bit of symbolism at play here too, with an infinity loop easily paired with Meta’s chosen logo.
Metatime in the Metaverse
While these use cases seem typical of Meta, it may not immediately be clear where Meta’s Metaverse begins. After all, this smartwatch is more like a smaller smartphone, which has direct access to Facebook and other Meta social networks. These social networks are the foundation of Meta’s drive to make mixed reality more social, and what better way to normalize that idea than by making it too easy for people to chat all day on their Meta watches.
Accessing the Metaverse from the tiny screen of a smartwatch might not be the most immersive experience, but it’s the easiest way that won’t involve holding your phone all the time. Simply raising your wrist can be enough to strike up a conversation with someone through a metaverse network, and you won’t have to worry too much about not seeing what’s in front of you.
The detachable design of the watch also makes it the perfect companion for AR glasses. Ideally, these glasses would have built-in cameras, but there are still technical limitations to how you can fit these sensors into a thin frame. More importantly, these cameras are too hidden and discreet to raise privacy concerns which, in turn, reduce the market potential of the glasses (just ask Google). Nothing says you’re recording than having a detached smartwatch lifted and pointed at an object, scene, or even a person.
Even when not used as a video recording device, Meta’s smartwatch also has indirect applications in the Metaverse. With biometric sensors for movement, heart rate, temperature, etc., the wearable could provide Meta with the data needed for a more accurate representation of your Metaverse avatar or, more likely, to send you an advertisement about the best drink. exercise to help replenish your electrolytes.
While smartwatches are pretty much a mainstay of consumer electronics these days, a Meta Watch will always attract more attention and criticism than any other smartwatch maker on the market. It’s not really because of the weird design of the watch itself, assuming that happens, and more on the company. He may have changed his name, but Meta still has this effect on everything he touches.
It won’t be the first smartwatch to have a camera, but the mere fact that there are no more smartwatches with cameras today might tell you how the market collectively decided that was a bad idea. The privacy implications of having such an unobtrusive recording device disguised as an ordinary, everyday accessory were too great to ignore. Now imagine that same technology is in the hands of a company that has shown how not to respect privacy.
It doesn’t matter where the camera is pointing because there will always be a moment when it can see everything around you. A flick of the wrist or a turn of the arm could provide a bigger picture of a wearer’s surroundings, even when the camera is supposed to be off. Of course, Meta will always defend its privacy practices, and Facebook’s thousands of users make it clear how many of them might not care at all, as long as it brings convenience and social connection.
It’s still unclear at this point if Meta will actually pursue such a smartwatch design, especially one that’s admittedly as innovative as this one. It’s only a matter of time, however, if he stays true to his Metaverse mission because, until then, everything and anything in the meatverse will tie into the Metaverse.
Designer/Viewer: Sarang Shet