Facebook just ratcheted up its ongoing augmented reality war against the competition by stealing away Google's director of product for AR, Nikhil Chandhok. In his new role, the executive will serve as Facebook's director of product on the company's Camera/AR team.
Over the past year, Facebook's AR efforts have centered on its Camera Effects platform, which gives users the same kind of front-facing camera effects made famous by Snapchat. The latest version of the platform allows developers and brands to create their own AR masks.
"As I join the Camera/AR team at Facebook, I'm looking forward to building upon a platform that allows for the creation and discovery of global AR experiences everywhere," wrote Chandhok, in a Facebook post earlier this week. "I'm especially interested in building more conversation and momentum in cross-platform camera services. The fact that the smartphone camera has such massive AR opportunities still ahead—to me that is an exceptional and interesting challenge."
During his tenure at Google, Chandhok led the company's strategy for ARCore, VPS Mapping, Tango, and AR apps, among other initiatives. Chandhok spent seven years in a similar role at YouTube, with the launch of the YouTube mobile app for iPhone among his accomplishments.
"While I'm leaving the team at Daydream and Google, I'm proud of the work we did together," wrote Chandhok. "We gave developers ARCore and expanded access to augmented reality tools. We also designed foundational aspects of AR platforms and explored how people use AR now and how they'll use it in the future."
The timing isn't great for Google, as the company is in the midst of sunsetting Tango and ushering ARCore from developer preview to wider consumer adoption.
Beyond the hardware and the software, the battle for brain power, that is, the people pioneering the AR space, is heating up. Hopefully, this competition will only mean better products for us on the user end of the equation.