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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech's biggest companies are ramping up competition for the real estate between your hand and your elbow.

The big picture: The next big hardware platform after the smartphone will likely involve devices for your eyes, your ears and your wrists.

One big challenge for designers of this wearable computer of the future is where to put the central processor and the battery needed to power it.

Your forearm looks like the best candidate, right now.

Driving the news: Facebook is readying a competitor to Apple's Watch for release next summer, The Verge recently reported.

  • Facebook's watch, per that report, will have a video camera on the front and will also be detachable, allowing users to deploy a second camera on the back.
  • Facebook can also leverage big investments in VR hardware and a dominant consumer position with its Oculus Quest product line.
  • Further down the road, Facebook researchers are exploring watch-like devices that will "virtualize" input by working with smart glasses to simulate keyboard and mouse data entry in AR.

State of play: Tech giants are rapidly staking claims to different pieces of the next-platform puzzle, involving different visions of the roles watches, earbuds and glasses or goggles will play.

Apple has a big lead in smart watches. So far it has tied the Apple Watch heavily to the health market. Apple's Watch depends on a linkage to an iPhone to work.

  • Apple's wireless AirPods also have a strong market share.
  • Apple has long been rumored to be hatching a smart glasses project, but the secretive company offers no clues to whether or when it might launch a product.
  • Apple's prowess at integrating hardware and software could give it an edge. It could first tie all these peripherals together through the iPhone — then, later, figure out how to remove the phone from the equation.

Google's efforts to match Apple in the watch market with a competing operating system have largely stuttered.

  • At this year's Google I/O, the company announced plans to merge its Android Wear platform with Samsung's Tizen-based watch ecosystem.
  • The company took an early shot at the glasses market with Google Glass, but that's now become chiefly an industrial product.
  • The company's strongest wearables play is probably its acquisition of Fitbit, which brings a loyal following for its fitness oriented watches and trackers.

Snap, with its focus on cameras, has shown a determination to stake out turf in the AR glasses realm.

  • Its latest products are available for AR developers but not yet for the public.

Microsoft has struggled in its efforts beyond the PC, having largely given up on mobile devices. It also had a very short-lived entry in the fitness wearable space, with Microsoft Band.

The bottom line: Right now this is a fight between Facebook, which wants to depend less on hardware providers in the post-smartphone era, and Apple, which aims to dominate whatever product category takes the iPhone's place. Google is down, but thanks to Fitbit, not necessarily out.

Why it matters: Hardware transitions only come every decade or two, and in the past they've given upstart contenders an opportunity to knock off the Goliaths who dominated the current generation.

Yes, but: So far, this time around, the Goliaths are fully in command of the field.

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Tokyo Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz has become the first Team United States Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver, .86 seconds behind him. Moments later, Kieran Smith grabbed a third medal for the U.S. when he won bronze in the 400-meter freestyle.

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

DOJ won't investigate nursing home deaths in N.Y. and 2 other states

People who've lost loved ones due to COVID-19 while they were in New York nursing homes attend a March protest and vigil in New York City. As of this month, Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Department of Justice has decided not to launch a civil rights investigation into whether policies in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan contributed to pandemic deaths in nursing homes, according to a letter sent to Republicans.

Why it matters: The Trump DOJ requested data from the three states plus New Jersey last August "amid still-unanswered questions about whether some states, especially New York, inadvertently worsened the pandemic death toll by requiring nursing homes to accept residents previously hospitalized for COVID-19," per AP.

Former Blizzard CEO says he "failed” women at the studio

Image: Neville Elder / Getty Images

Mike Morhaime, who co-founded and worked at video game studio Blizzard for 28 years, has apologized publicly for toxic work conditions at his former studio, which is now the subject of a discrimination and harassment lawsuit by the state of California.

Why it matters: Morhaime is no longer at Blizzard, but was its leader for most of its existence and therefore was in charge when much of what is alleged in California’s suit would have occurred.