Meta’s head of augmented reality (AR) software recently announced his resignation, raising questions about the company’s future in the AR space. This development comes at a crucial time for Meta as it aims to build hardware that can provide access to an immersive virtual ‘metaverse’ and replace laptops and mobile devices. The departure of the head of AR software has raised concerns about the company’s ability to overcome the challenges it faces in developing AR products and bringing them to market.
A Meta spokesperson confirmed the report to Reuters on Friday. This raises concerns about the company’s progress in developing a custom operating system for the planned AR glasses. Meta Vice President of Engineering Don Box announced the end of his tenure at the company this week. However, he did not say what his next steps would be.
A Meta spokesperson confirmed that Box will leave the company at the end of this week. He also said that Box is doing this for personal reasons and that his decision will not have any impact on the product roadmap. Sources say Box is an experienced engineer and his departure could hinder progress on the operating system, a key part of Meta’s AR glasses project.
Background and challenges
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality technologies and envisions a future where billions of people live in immersive digital environments for work, socializing and entertainment. However, the company has encountered several obstacles in this endeavor, including technical challenges in building custom silicon for its AR/VR products, as well as setbacks in developing a unified, custom operating system for its virtual reality headsets and smart glasses. Additionally, Meta’s flagship virtual reality game, Horizon Worlds, has experienced issues, leading to a “quality lockdown” while the company works to improve the app.
Sources say Meta plans to launch the first generation of AR glasses next year. However, they would be for internal use only and used by a select group of developers. Meta wants to launch its first AR glasses for consumers in 2027.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg once described AR glasses as a masterpiece, and he is working hard to build hardware that can deliver an immersive virtual “metaverse” experience and replace laptops and mobile devices. Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth, head of the company’s Metaverse-focused Reality Labs division, recently said that Meta still faces “quite a few challenges” in building an AR product that can be brought to market and that it will take a number of years. The company has also had trouble building custom silicon for its AR/VR products and last month laid off some employees at its Reality Labs custom silicon unit, FAST.
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Box’s work history
Meta originally hired Box in 2021 to find a path forward after the failure of its XROS project, which aimed to create a unified platform for its virtual reality headsets, Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses and the planned augmented reality glasses. Early last year, Box split its 300-person XROS department into teams focused on each device line. He also personally took over the team focused on AR software.
Before joining Meta, Box worked at Microsoft since 2002. His last role at Microsoft was in charge of mixed reality engineering, developing software for the HoloLens2 headset and related AR/VR services. Box was previously best known for leading the creation of the Xbox One operating system and later for running Microsoft’s core operating systems group, responsible for all Windows products.
Implications for AR glasses
The resignation of Meta’s head of AR software has raised concerns about the impact on the company’s AR glasses. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described AR glasses as a crucial part of the company’s vision for the metaverse. However, with the departure of the head of AR software, there are uncertainties surrounding the timeline for bringing AR products to market and the company’s ability to address the challenges it faces in this area. Nevertheless, Meta states that this will not affect progress in AR software.
Meta’s advances in AR and VR
Despite the challenges, Meta has made significant progress in augmented and virtual reality technologies. The company has launched cutting-edge devices such as the Meta Quest Pro, which features mixed reality and advanced display and optical technologies. Meta’s investment in research and development for VR and AR technologies has resulted in the development of next-generation mixed reality display technologies and systems, offering a glimpse into the future of AR and VR hardware.
The resignation of Meta’s head of AR software comes at a pivotal time for the company as it navigates the complexities of developing AR products and realizes its vision for the metaverse. While the departure raises concerns about the company’s ability to meet current challenges, Meta’s continued investment in AR and VR technologies demonstrates its commitment to shaping the future of immersive digital experiences.
The resignation of Meta’s head of augmented reality software has significant implications for the company’s AR ambitions and the development of AR glasses. As Meta continues to grapple with technical hurdles and strives to bring its AR products to market, the future of its augmented reality efforts remains a topic of great interest and scrutiny within the technology industry. What do you think of the firing of Meta’s head of augmented reality (AR) software? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below