Facebook has reportedly hired a 15-year Apple veteran to head up its Oculus VR division’s hardware team.
Michael Hillman worked on multiple major projects at Apple, including as lead designer with the iMac team. At Facebook he’s being charged with helping to take the company’s virtual reality mainstream.
Hillman will be working alongside Oculus’s chief operating officer Hans Hartmann, who joined in 2016 after working in the same role at Fitbit. Facebook is also in the process of bringing on board Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra to oversee its VR efforts — which Mark Zuckerberg views as the next major computing platform after mobile phones.
News that Michael Hillman has joined Facebook comes at the same time Apple is paying increasing attention to augmented reality (AR), which Tim Cook has said he views as being a bigger marketplace opportunity than VR.
At present, Apple is allegedly 1-2 years from debuting its own AR headset. Before that, it is likely that Apple will introduce augmented reality as a feature for the iPhone — possibly as early as this year’s tenth anniversary iPhone refresh.
While Hillman left Apple before it majorly ramped up its efforts in augmented reality, Facebook no doubt hopes that his history of making mass-market, consumer-friendly devices at Apple will translate over to the world of virtual reality.