Twitter is beginning to devote resources toward building out a dedicated VR/AR-focused team. The social media company has hired former Apple designer Alessandro Sabatelli to lead the initiative as Twitter’s Director of VR and AR, Will Mason over at UploadVR reports.
Update: Twitter has confirmed the hire and said that the Augmented Reality team will be housed within the company’s machine learning arm, Twitter Cortex.
Sabatelli spent more than five years at Apple working on interface design for the company’s suite of mobile products. Since leaving Apple, Sabatelli became CEO of IXOMOXI, a VR-driven startup focused on building the “future of music experience.”
IXOMOXI put out a Gear VR app called Lucy earlier this year; it’s basically a series of trippy Snapchat-style filters that you can view through the VR headset using a phone’s passthrough camera. The company details that its app targets “millennials at music festivals.”
With initiatives like Moments, Twitter has continually reiterated its intent to capture the experience of the here-and-now. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the boat in a lot of ways when it comes to using this general philosophy to boost user-generated media content at events.
Snapchat, on the other hand, has done this very well and is really positioning itself as a significant power in the AR space through some intriguing acquisitions, including most recently Seene, a startup that lets users use their front-facing cameras to capture their face in 3D.
Whether Sabatelli will be helping Twitter play catch-up with Snapchat or will instead be pursuing new VR/AR ventures for the social media platform is up for debate, but it’s clear that with this hire Twitter is looking to flirt a bit more with the VR/AR medium.