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Meta's next product could be AI-powered earphones with built-in cameras

Meta may be looking to enter the audio market.

Published onMay 13, 2024

A photo of the Beats Solo 4's ear pads.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The pads might be soft, but they're holding back too much mass.
  • Meta is reportedly working on AI-assisted earphones.
  • It’s unclear if the final product will be in-ear earbuds or over-the-ear headphones.
  • The company wants to put cameras in the device so the AI can translate foreign languages, identify objects, and more.

Meta is looking to enter the AI wearable space to compete with other companies it believes are also exploring the category. One of the products it’s said to be working on is AI-assisted earphones.

According to a report from The Information, Meta is currently exploring the potential of AI-powered earphones with built-in cameras. The organization’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has reportedly seen several possible designs but has not been satisfied with any of them so far.

The project is known internally as “Camerabuds,” however, it’s uncertain if the final product will be in-ear earbuds or over-ear headphones. As of now, there appears to be no timeline for the project, but Meta executives were expecting a design to be approved in the first quarter.

There are a few problems outside of the design that seem to also be holding the project up. These problems stem from fitting a camera and batteries in a tiny device like an earbud. Employees have reportedly pointed out that hair could get in the way of the cameras and that having batteries and a camera could make the earbuds bulky and uncomfortably hot. Not to mention that the cameras could present a privacy issue.

If you’re wondering what the cameras would be used for, they would be there to let the AI take in surrounding information. This would allow the AI to do things like translate foreign languages, identify objects, and more.

This isn’t the first time Meta has considered getting into the headphone market. As the outlet points out, Meta previously developed earphones in 2019, only to abandon the project because the company’s leaders thought it would be too hard to stand out in a crowded market. However, the speculation that its competitors are also working on AI wearables appears to have given the company the courage it needs to pursue the project further.

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