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Meta reportedly building “camerabuds” – headphones with cameras and AI like its Ray-Ban smart glasses

Meta's 'camerabuds' might ultimately have an over-ear headphone rather than earbud form-factor (Image generated by DALL-E AI)
Meta's 'camerabuds' might ultimately have an over-ear headphone rather than earbud form-factor (Image generated by DALL-E AI)
A new report has emerged claiming that Meta is in the early stages of developing headphones or earphones with built in cameras and an AI assistant, similar to its Ray-Ban smart glasses. Reportedly, multiple designs have been explored, with efforts underway to circumvent issues like obstruction from long hair and overheating.

Meta’s success with its Ray-Ban smart glasses appears to have spurred the company to explore another kind of smart wearable. The “camerabuds” (a temporary working title) are a new kind of AI- and camera-equipped earphones or headphones under development at Meta, if a report from news outlet The Information is to be believed.

The idea is that the camerabuds’ built-in mics and camera(s), backed by Meta-AI, will enable functionality like Meta-AI’s ‘look and ask’ feature (recently brought to the Ray-Ban smart glasses), which allows the wearer to ask the voice assistant questions about objects or places that the camera is seeing.

According to the report, several designs, with both over-ear headphone and in-ear form factors, have been explored and reviewed by Mark Zuckerberg, but so far none has been finalised. Meanwhile, Meta’s engineers are tackling at least two major challenges: the obstruction of the camera’s field of view by long hair, and overheating. The insides of modern wireless earbuds and headphones (with features like active noise cancellation and spatial audio) are already pretty cramped, so adding all that extra functionality would surely push the limits from a thermal standpoint.

For that reason, and by virtue of being less prone to getting covered by hair, headphones with their large ear-cups should have the clear advantage. After all, Dyson did manage to cram an entire air-purifier into a pair. That said, the new generation of solid-state drivers such as those in Creative’s Aurvana Ace earbuds could come to the rescue for such an application.

The idea of putting a camera into a headphone is far from ridiculous, given the immense popularity of wireless earbuds, and how quickly users are getting used to talking to voice assistants. In fact, Apple was also exploring the very same concept with the AirPods, according to a Bloomberg report published earlier this year.

Meta is reportedly still in the very early stages of exploring this concept, which may very well never see the light of day. However, it does serve to underscore the company’s continuing commitment to what it sees as the future of computing devices – one where smart wearables, AI-based assistants and virtual- and augmented-reality hold the centrestage.

Meta did a good job of miniaturising the tech in its smart glases and making it fairly unobtrusive (Image source: Ray-Ban)
Meta did a good job of miniaturising the tech in its smart glases and making it fairly unobtrusive (Image source: Ray-Ban)
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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 05 > Meta reportedly building “camerabuds” – headphones with cameras and AI like its Ray-Ban smart glasses
Vishal Bhardwaj, 2024-05-15 (Update: 2024-05-15)