The augmented reality (AR) wars are only going to get fiercer in 2018, after the burgeoning technology's potential was validated in 2017 following numerous tech giants jumping in with both feet. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) made a big push at its F8 developer conference last year, proclaiming that it would make the camera "the first augmented reality platform." Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Google subsequently introduced developer kits -- ARKit and ARCore, respectively -- to bring AR to mobile devices.
Facebook just raised the stakes by poaching an AR exec from the search giant.
Augmented Reality Wars 2017. Part 1. pic.twitter.com/mX5ovJzq82— Mixed Reality Design (@MixedrealityD) August 2, 2017
A big score
First reported by TechCrunch, Nikhil Chandhok has now joined Facebook as part of its camera and AR team. Chandhok was most recently director of AR products at Google, according to his LinkedIn profile, a position he held for nearly two years, in which he helped lead Google's AR strategy for wearables and smartphones.
In his Facebook post announcing the job transition, Chandhok says that he's looking forward to "building more conversation and momentum in cross-platform camera services," while highlighting that the smartphone camera "has such massive AR opportunities still ahead."
Chandhok is a big score for the social network, one that will undoubtedly accelerate its AR road map.
Facebook is recruiting aggressively before it pushes into hardware
The news comes just weeks after Facebook poached another product exec from Google, Amit Fulay. Fulay was in charge of Allo, Duo, and Hangouts, just some of Google's communication services. Allo is a messaging service, while Duo is a video-chatting service. Hangouts has a little bit of everything.
welcome brother! i got 3 weeks on you :-)— Amit Fulay (@amitfulay) January 29, 2018
Beyond online services, Facebook is also pushing deeper into hardware. Business Insider reported last year that Facebook's Building 8 hardware team was working on a special project involving cameras and AR, and Cheddar reported earlier this month that the social network was moving forward with its $500 video-chatting device named Portal. Subsidiary Oculus has also filed patents around AR glasses.
It's clear that Facebook is working on some type of AR hardware product that has the potential to free the company from relying on other mobile platforms (iOS and Android), instead possibly building its own AR platform. Considering its relative lack of hardware experience, the social network is going to need all the help it can get -- and it's ramping up its recruiting efforts accordingly.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple and Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, and Facebook. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.