When you think of Oculus you typically think of one thing: virtual reality. The young company popularized VR for an entirely new generation of true believers and is largely responsible for sparking the immersive renaissance we find ourselves in today. However, ever since the startup was acquired by Facebook in 2014, the writing was on the wall that the organization would grow beyond the scope of a gaming focused HMD. Today, flush with Facebook’s seemingly endless resources, Oculus is at the forefront of the VR industry’s research and development. A new job posting, however, may indicate that the VR company is ready to start adding a new pair of initials to its collection: AR.
The most populated section on the Oculus careers page by far is the “Research” tab. There are currently 52 positions available in this category and sitting right at the top of the list is a call for an “AR Incubation Lead.”
According to the posting, the selected applicant will be expected to “build, manage, lead and inspire a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, programmers, specialists, and designers who, working with world-class researchers, will build AR technology that opens the path to everyday use for a billion people.”
This team will be based in Redmond, Washington and will work to, “prototype complete systems that will bring together work in machine perception, optics, displays, human perception, haptics, audio, input, graphics, UI/UX, mobile computing, silicon, sensing, batteries, and whatever else is needed to create a truly compelling AR experience.”
The posting calls for a candidate with a BS in electrical or mechanical engineering and at least 5 years of hardware management experience. All indications point to the early stages of a new hardware platform for Oculus that focuses specifically on AR over VR.
Oculus has already revealed that its 10-year product roadmap since the Facebook acquisition has always ended in a pair of aviator-like, ultra-light glasses that combine both VR and AR into one product. The company’s VR efforts are well underway, and co-founder Palmer Luckey has been hinting at an AR platform for a while now. News of this incubation team, however, is the first substantial indication that Oculus is beginning to get the AR side of its R&D up and running as well.
The successful candidate for this position will also work with Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash in order to “develop and pursue a vision for what AR needs to be in order to be broadly used.”
There are a variety of AR headsets in active development today. The most notable of these being Microsoft’s HoloLens and the Meta 2. The mysterious specter of Magic Leap is also hanging over the AR industry right now, but until that company decides to actually showcase a real product, it is unclear just how influential they will be in this arena.
Oculus’ goal for this team seems to creating that “everyday AR” device that could be the long-theorized, but never realized, smartphone killer. It is important to note, however, that AR is an intrinsically difficult problem to solve. Huge advances in battery life, computer vision, mobile processors, optics and heat management need to take place before this type of tech can ever truly get off the ground. Therefore, it is possible that the work of this Redmond team will not show commercial fruit for years to come.
We reached out to Oculus for comment and they declined to share more information beyond what is already public in this job posting.