Facebook appears set on crafting custom silicon for augmented reality devices

Virtual Reality Oculus Rift Headset
Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 as a part of its development dive into the worlds of augmented reality and virtual reality.

Facebook is recruiting — and it’s seeking to hire engineers and designers to assist its Silicon team with the process of crafting custom chips for augmented reality (AR) devices and applications. With speculation that the company is looking to release a pair of AR glasses in the near future, the recent news isn’t surprising, but it does tell us that the company is serious about taking Facebook into the next phase of reality.

According to a report in The Information, Facebook has been looking for several different job positions over the past few days. The included description from the advertisement helps us to understand the direction in which the team is looking to take the project:

“Facebook Silicon team is driving the state of the art forward with breakthrough work in computer vision, machine learning, mixed reality, graphics, displays, sensors, and new ways to map the human body. Our chips will enable AR devices where our real and virtual world will mix and match throughout the day. We believe the only way to achieve our goals is to look at the entire stack, from transistor, through architecture, to firmware and algorithms.”

Recent job postings have made it evident that Facebook doesn’t just want to have its software run on other platforms; the company is looking to control the entire process, going beyond basic hardware to the silicon at the device’s heart. The first step to crafting an efficient pair of AR glasses may undoubtedly be to begin at the chip layer, and that is what we may be seeing with this newly discovered information.

The team members at Facebook are no strangers to the world of AR; they recently released a collection of AR games for the Messenger platform, in addition to opening up access to businesses, allowing third-party developers to build AR advertising solutions. Most notably, in 2014, the social giant acquired Oculus, a company specializing in virtual reality (VR) software and hardware.

With Facebook Messenger as a building block, it is an excellent opportunity, allowing Facebook to craft AR applications without first producing a complete AR headset. As Google learned back in 2013 when launching Google Glass, having an AR platform without a strong software foundation can be detrimental to success. However, Messenger may help to build up a software base for the company if it decides to release a pair of glasses soon.

Whether or not Facebook is planning to release a pair of AR glasses is still up in the air, but its hard to imagine what other uses the company could have for engineers who can develop custom hardware for augmented reality devices.

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