Facebook's New AR Wristband Lets You Control Computers With Your Mind

SparkAmpLab Editorial Team
July 13, 2021
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Discover the latest trends on-the-go. This is a quick topic recap of one of the five biggest AR/VR trends in March identified by SparkAmplify. Below is a recap on Facebook’s plans for its new AR wristband, which has been a trending topic in the AR/VR sphere. For more information on SparkAmplify’s monthly AR/VR topic analysis, please visit: https://www.sparkamplab.com/

Latest Development: Insiders claim that the device is primed for debut in mid-2022 around summer-time and will have multiple cameras.

However, a senior Facebook executive has commented that the smartwatch is still in the early stages of development and may never be released to the public. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be excited for. This is Facebook’s first foray into the arena of wrist-worn technology, pitting itself against aggressive competitors like Apple and Google. Competition is expected to be fierce as Facebook’s new smartwatch also doubles as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor, similar to that of the Apple Watch.

Details: Facebook intends to use technology from CTRL-Labs, a startup that has developed armbands capable of controlling computers through wrist movements. The wristbands use EMG to translate subtle neural signs into actions, like typing and swiping. The bands also provide haptic feedback, creating a system that’s more responsive than basic hand-tracking. 

Why It Matters: The future of utilising EMG in wearable hardware is extremely vast. Theoretically, while the user is typing, the device will be able to track nerve signals sent to the brain, thus allowing the user to type on a virtual keyboard and even automatically correct common typing errors. Even more mindblowing is the possibility that EMG wristbands may allow users to perform the aforementioned typing gestures simply by thinking about moving their hands instead of actually doing so. 

Facebook is collaborating with top US wireless carriers to support LTE connectivity in the device so it will not need to be paired with a phone to function. 

Future Developments: Facebook is reportedly planning for future versions of the device to sync up with its augmented reality glasses, which are in the process of development. According to Zuckerberg, AR glasses will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones in the future. The device will supposedly act as a controller for the smartwatches. 

What to Watch: Despite reports of its release date nearing, with second and third generation plans of the device apparently already in the pipeline, the future of this wristband does appear slightly shaky. Facebook has a rather rocky track record with hardware. Its failure to break into the hardware market is demonstrated through the disappointing performances of the  HTC First smartphone and video-chat device Portal among others. Nonetheless, the future of incorporating EMG with wearable tech is very promising and if Facebook can be a pioneer in this field with its new AR wristband and glasses, we can anticipate a new era of wearable tech. 

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