Facebook poaches Google’s AR/VR engineering lead to take over Portal team

Facebook is bringing on the engineering lead for Google’s entire AR/VR team to tackle Portal hardware.

Ryan Cairns comes aboard after 12 years at Google, where he was most recently the engineering lead for a team of more than 500 people tackling AR/VR at the big G, including Daydream, Lens and ARCore, according to his LinkedIn.

His arrival comes after some big changes to Facebook’s hardware team. Last month, the company shook up its Building 8 hardware team, splitting it up into Facebook Reality Labs (AR/VR) and Portal teams. Rafa Camargo took over the Portal team while Michael Abrash stayed in charge of Facebook Reality Labs, according to a Business Insider report. Today’s shakeup shifts Camargo to taking over AR/VR, while Cairns will take on Portal.

No word on how this affects the role of Michael Abrash, who has been a very public face for the company’s AR/VR efforts. We’ve reached out to Facebook for more info.

Update 12:42 PT: Facebook has confirmed Abrash still holds his role as chief scientist leading Facebook Reality Labs.

Bringing an AR/VR engineer to take on Portal while the guy who was leading Portal takes on AR/VR may seem a bit questionable but Facebook does see quite a bit of crossover between the two hardware efforts which both heavily leverage computer vision tech. While Portal takes the similar form factor of other smart screens from Google and Amazon, what distinguishes it are the features that track people’s bodies and faces to automatically frame shots when users are further away from the camera as well as applying AR selfie masks that are available in other products.