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Twitter hires former Apple designer to head its VR/AR division

By midian182
Jun 29, 2016
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  1. Twitter hasn’t dived head first into developing virtual reality with quite as much enthusiasm as Facebook or Google, but it has been making some moves in the field recently. The microblogging site acquired machine learning firm Magic Pony earlier this month, and now it has hired former Apple designer Alessandro Sabatelli to lead its VR and AR efforts.

    Twitter’s new hire worked as user-interface designer for iOS, Mac, and WatchOS apps. He also worked with Ixomoxi, a VR/AR company that targets “millennials at music festivals” with its GearVR visual filters.

    First reported by UploadVR, Sabatelli is now officially Twitter’s new Director of VR and AR. He will head up the company’s Augmented Reality team within Twitter Cortex, which also houses Magic Pony.

    The Cortex division, which consists of researchers, scientists, and engineers, focuses on “developing state-of-the-art machine learning capabilities to refine and transform [Twitter’s] products.”

    Twitter hasn't talked specifically about Sabatelli’s role, but his LinkedIn page says his aim is “empowering us all in the spatial computing revolution.”

    Twitter isn’t slowing down in its efforts to catch up with the rest of the social media pack. Once seen as Facebook’s main rival, the company has fallen behind the likes of Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat. Facebook, meanwhile, is getting ever closer to the 2 billion monthly active users milestone.

    Twitter's VR/AR aspirations may be primarily focused on bringing 360-degree video to Periscope, but its long-term strategy could involve implementing the technology into the platform itself, turning Twitter into a more immersive experience.

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