Facebook exploring biosensors for future AR/VR devices and wearables

Facebook biosensors

Facebook Reality Labs ( FRL) is the division where the social media powerhouse designs a new breed of hardware. The FRL team manages all the Oculus line of products powering Facebook’s AR/VR ambitions.

According to a new job posting, the Cameras and Sensors team at Facebook is currently seeking a Biosensor Integration engineer to embed biosensing-based features into Facebook’s future hardware lineup.

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The Cameras & Sensors (C&S) team works with technology related to photographic and machine vision cameras, imaging sensors, depth, inertial, and biosensing systems and owns the development and validation for all these sensing systems across AR VR & Portal product portfolios. 

According to the job description, the Biosensor Integration Engineer will collaborate closely with a highly cross-functional product team in enabling various biosensing features across multiple product lines within the FRL AR/VR ecosystem.Facebook biosensor wearables

Specifically, the position expert knowledge of sensing modalities for typical biosensors in health and fitness-related wearable products includes photoplethysmogram, body temperature, bioimpedance, and electrocardiogram (ECG).

Recent reports posted by Alex Heath from Verge suggested that Facebook is currently working to unveil a smartwatch-type device with two embedded cameras and a heart rate monitor.

Since the job description suggests that this position will be responsible for enabling biosensing features across multiple product lines within the AR/VR system, one wonders what other products could house biosensing capabilities in the future beyond Facebook’s planned smartwatch.

None of the Oculus products have any biosensing capabilities, although some Facebook patents highlight the use of EMG (electromyography) based sensors in its AR/VR products. Facebook has also been hiring clinical research-based positions.

FaceBook clinical research manager

EMG signals may be used in various applications, including medical monitoring and diagnosis, muscle rehabilitation, exercise and training, prosthetic control, and even in controlling functions of electronic devices (i.e., in human-electronics interfaces). 

In the case of Facebook, they have explored ideas around fabricating surface EMG sensors. Muse is another brand that is exploring the use of biosignal detection in a mixed reality environment.

According to Alex’s reporting Facebook has spent about $1 billion developing the first version of this watch and is already working on gen 2 and 3. The Facebook watch will help control its AR glasses, noted Alex in his tweet. 

It will be interesting to see what biosensing features are added to which products in Facebook’s AR/VR lineup. Given the company’s track record with Privacy, it will definitely be an uphill battle for them to position a health/fitness product successfully.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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