Facebook wearables are coming. Would you want them?

Privacy news
2 mins
Smartwatch, smart glasses, and wristband with the Facebook logo.

Facebook made almost 85 billion USD in 2020 selling ads across its platforms, but it appears that the company wants to diversify its revenue streams further. Given that ad sales constitute approximately 98% of its revenue, that’s probably not a bad idea.

The first product it’s looking to introduce is a health and fitness-focused smartwatch with cellular connectivity. For now, the device is rumored to be built on the Android platform, but Facebook is said to be working on its own operating system to support future versions. 

The watch is said to support messaging, too, which means it’s likely to incorporate native apps for Messenger and WhatsApp. The cellular connectivity support fits neatly into this plan. 

But it’s health and fitness where Facebook wants to make the biggest mark. The plan is to leverage its social clout to build fitness communities, allowing users to compete against their friends and participate in fitness challenges.

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That’s not the extent of Facebook’s hardware ambitions. Project Aria is its upcoming smart-glasses product, which will blend augmented reality into our daily interactions. Facebook says sensors on the glasses will “capture the wearer’s video and audio, as well as their eye tracking and location information.”

It’s also working on a neural wristband that can read electrical signals and send them to an augmented-reality interface. Essentially, this means the ability to type without a keyboard or control something on the augmented-reality screen with your hands.

While this device can’t read your mind, tech that can spy on our thoughts is definitely in the works

Read more: Tech that can spy on our brains is coming

Facebook wearables: Good idea/bad idea?

It’s important to note that all three products mentioned here are still not in the commercial stage, i.e., they’re prototypes in a lab and their features are still being ironed out. But if Facebook’s history is anything to go by, it’s natural to be wary of the data tracking possibilities.

After all, Facebook tracks your data even when you’re not using the app

When you visit a website or open an app, your activity on the platform is shared with Facebook, who can send you targeted ads based on it.

Facebook has also exposed user information on multiple occasions, which is disconcerting, to say the least, if it plans on capturing eye tracking and location information. 

It seems as if this new push into mind-reading came after its acquisition of startup CTRL-Labs in 2019. Before the acquisition, CTRL-Labs had ambitions to build in the field of electromyography, which aims to translate muscle activity into gesture-related software inputs. 

It’s impossible to state conclusively what the specific privacy risks of the new Facebook products are. But one thing is for certain: They’re far more invasive than an app that sits around on our phone.

Would you buy Facebook-engineered wearables? Let us know in the comments!

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I like to think about the impact that the internet has on humanity. In my free time, I'm wolfing down pasta.