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Facebook nabs Google’s AR product director


Facebook has stolen away Google’s director of Product for AR Nikhil Chandhok, who will be joining FB to lead product management of the Camera team working on augmented reality.

Chandhok worked on Google’s ARCore smartphone augmented reality platform as well as its Daydream VR platform in his position there. Previously, Chandhok had co-founded AI startup Bento Labs, which raised $2 million from GV and First Round Capital, among others.

“…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. I’m especially interested in building more conversation and momentum in cross-platform camera services,” Chandhok wrote in a Facebook post.

Both Google nor Facebook have staked out AR as a major platform for the companies’ future growth. They both have some projects that they’ve had very high-profile reveals for, but much of the onus has been on developers to figure out what the hell to actually do with the platforms. Everyone seems to easily theorize what they might do in a world with AR glasses, but it’s the current world where a lot of companies are having a tough time visualizing what will make a user raise their smartphone up to see an augmented view of the world.

Google’s ARCore platform has been a wide open world for developers to find out what to do with positional tracking on horizontal planes (on select devices). Meanwhile, Facebook’s Camera Effects has been a more straightforward entrance into the world of selfie filters, but lives inside Facebook Camera, which you may be surprised to learn exists in your FB app.

Long story short, it’s early days, so getting the right talent to define your product vision is obviously key. Facebook has the long game of AR being mapped out on the hardware side with Oculus Research eyeing wild displays, but getting more people focused on the use cases of tomorrow — even if they just look like updated camera features rather than dedicated quote-unquote AR features — is a different challenge altogether.

Lucas Matney

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