Meta’s next hardware project might be AI-infused headphones with cameras

The project is reportedly called "Camerabuds."

Screenshot via Facebook

It’s no secret that Meta is eager to prove itself as an AI company, and it might be eyeing a new hardware project to help it get there. The company is in the early stages of “exploring” designs for AI-enabled headphones, according to a new report in The Information.

The company is reportedly calling it “Camerabuds,” because the headphones or earbuds (the company is considering both designs) would have two outward-facing cameras that would be able to detect the wearer’s surroundings and power real-time AI features. In that way, it sounds a but like what the company has done with the multimodal AI features in its smart glasses.

For now, it’s unclear if such a project would actually move forward and Meta didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly “seen several possible designs for the device” but hasn’t been “satisfied” with any so far. Internally there are also engineering concerns, like issues around battery life and heat, as well as the myriad of privacy issues that come with camera-enabled wearables. People with long hair could also pose a potential challenge as their locks would block the cameras’ view.

As The Information points out, Meta has a somewhat mixed track record when it comes to hardware projects. It killed its lineup of smart speakers, called Portal, in 2022 and axed a long-rumored camera-enabled smartwatch. But the most recent version of its Ray-Ban-branded smart glasses, which feature Meta AI, have been more positively received. The company hasn’t disclosed how many pairs it’s sold, but Zuckerberg has said that there's been “high demand” and that the glasses have seen better and more sustained engagement than the first-generation shades.

Putting Meta AI into another piece of hardware would also be very much in line with the company’s ambitions to compete with other leading AI firms. While AI-specific hardware like Rabbit’s R1 and Humane’s AI Pin have so far been underwhelming, Meta is likely hoping that putting its latest AI features into a device people are already used to wearing, like headphones, will be an easier sell.