At its F8 developer's conference in 2016, Facebook went on record with a roadmap that called for augmented reality integration into Oculus within 10 years. Now, it appears as though Facebook is accelerating those plans.
Based on recent job postings, Facebook's Oculus subsidiary is looking for a product design prototyper for AR experiences and a product designer for AR platform. Both postings begin with the same boilerplate to persuade candidates to join the team that will "define wearable AR experiences for Facebook."
"Augmented Reality will change our lives as fundamentally as personal computers and smartphones have," the postings state. "AR glasses will let you transcend space, conjure objects and devices into existence and amplify your senses, memory and cognition."
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In addition, Oculus is seeking a marketing strategy and operations manager to lead the respective AR/VR teams at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters.
The positions are just the latest sign that Facebook is hastening its push into AR hardware. Earlier this year, Facebook hired Ryan Cairns, a key contributor to Google's AR products, to take over the Portal team, with Rafa Carmargo moving over from the Portal team to lead the AR/VR team.
When Facebook launched Portal last year, it officially entered the AR hardware market, as the video communications product supports Spark AR camera effects. Based on patent filings, we know that Facebook at least has the research and development for AR wearables underway. Even Facebook's development of a voice assistant points to functionality that would be key for smartglasses interaction.
Between its acquisitions, hiring patterns, and stepping stone products and software, Facebook appears to be on a similar trajectory as Apple in AR smartglasses development.
However, the public perceptions of the two companies are practically polar opposites. Apple is a beacon for privacy, so far as it believes consumers will trust them enough to use an Apple credit card. Meanwhile, Facebook is in the midst of a downward spiral of controversy over its handling of customer data. The leaders of the two companies, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg, have even traded barbs over this.
So, when it comes down to sharing your view of the world with another company, who would you choose? It looks like we're about to find out very soon.