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Key Google AR/VR Director Heads To Facebook Reality Labs

Google continues to bleed experts in AR and VR technology as Facebook Reality Labs staffs up for a bigger push into hardware.

The latest move to Facebook is Joshua To, a key Google director who led “a large team of product designers, artists, writers and researchers focused on supporting our wearables and hardware efforts,” according to a Linkedin profile, which says he started at Facebook Reality Labs this month. A report by Input added that he worked on AR/VR projects like Lens and Daydream and confirmed he’ll be working on AR at Facebook.

To is the latest Googler to move on in recent years after the company shuttered efforts in VR right as it was on the cusp of delivering an all-in-one package similar to Facebook’s Oculus Quest. We’ll note that Paul Debevec left Google recently for Netflix. Debevec is one of the leading researchers in light field technology who joined Google in 2016 after pioneering work at USC working at the same institute Palmer Luckey spent time in before kickstarting the Oculus Rift. Debevec is now “Director of Research, Creative Algorithms and Technology” at Netflix where he’s doing “Research in computer graphics, computer vision, and machine learning to improve the creative filmmaking process.” A recent deal by Netflix with a prolific producer could lead to VR content from the company.

The pair join a long list of experts who have moved on from Google as the company shifts its ambitions in hardware and platforms. The company open sourced its art app Tilt Brush and shut down its 3D object hosting service Poly while adding new AR-centric features to its efforts in smartphones. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to hire at an incredible rate with more than 10,000 people working on VR and AR at the company.

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