Amazon hires to develop ‘advanced’ and ‘magic’ AR/VR product

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Enlarge / The Sword of Damocles head-mounted display, the original augmented reality headset, circa 1968.

Ivan Sutherland

Amazon plans to join other tech giants like Apple, Google and Meta to develop its own mass-market augmented reality product, job openings spotted by Protocol suggest.

The numerous related jobs included roles in computer vision, product management and more. They reportedly referred to “XR/AR devices” and “an advanced XR research concept.” Since the Protocol published its report on Monday, several of the job vacancies referenced have been removed and others have had specific product wording removed.

For example, Protocol wrote that the description for the Sr. Technical Program Manager, New Products role included the phrase, “You will develop an advanced XR research concept into a magical and useful novel consumer product.” Now it simply reads, “You will become a create magical and useful consumer product,” although it also states, “Our team specializes in inventing novel products that create category by using advanced sensing, display and machine learning technologies.”

A UX Designer role required applicants to be “spatial thinker with 3D design experience in motion design, animation, AR/VR, gaming, architecture, or industrial design” to “work at the interface of the core system along with end-user applications.” . from multimodal interfaces to 3D AR entertainment experiences.” (Again, some language has been adjusted or removed since the protocol published its article.)

Google, Microsoft, and Snap have all released various AR wearables over the years with varying degrees of success, and they still appear to be working on future products in the category. Meanwhile, it’s one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets that Apple employs a massive team of engineers, researchers, and more to work on mixed reality devices, including mass-market AR glasses. And Meta (formerly Facebook) has made its intentions to focus on AR explicit in recent years.

It’s not too surprising that Amazon is tracking the same thing. As Protocol notes, Amazon has formed a new research and development group led by Kharis O’Connell, an executive who has previously worked on AR products at Google and elsewhere.

But Amazon’s product may not be the same type of product that we know Meta and Apple have been focusing on; it might not be a wearable at all. Some Amazon job listings refer to it as a “smart home” device. And Amazon is among the tech companies that have been experimenting with room-scale projections and holograms instead of wearables for AR.

Whatever form the product takes, it will likely take many years to come as many of the roles listed are involved early in the development process.


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