Entertainment

Amazon is quietly developing a 'new-to-world' AR product

The company has in the past explored the idea of glasses-free AR.

The Day 1 building is seen at the Amazon.com Inc. headquarters on May 20, 2021 in Seattle, Washington

Amazon is looking to hire computer vision scientists, designers, program managers, product managers and more.

Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Add Amazon to the long list of companies looking to build a more immersive future: The ecommerce giant has been looking to hire a number of people for an unannounced AR/VR product in recent months. Among the roles Amazon is looking to fill are a wide variety of senior positions for computer vision scientists, designers, program managers, product managers, researchers and technologists, suggesting that the company is looking to build out a substantive team.

“You will develop an advanced XR research concept into a magical and useful new-to-world consumer product,” one of the job listings reads, using the industry shorthand for extended reality, which can encompass both AR and VR. Another job listing describes the initiative related to “XR/AR devices,” and states that eventual hires will be part of “a greenfield development effort” that will include “developing code for early prototypes through mass production.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon is looking to hire a UX designer to work on “the core system interface along with end-user applications spanning from multi-modal interfaces to 3D AR entertainment experiences,” and suggest that applicants should have the ability to “think spatially, with 3D design experience in motion design, animation [and] AR/VR, games,” among other things. Applicants for a senior product manager position are told they should have “experience building deeply technical products, e.g. AI/ML, robotics, games.”

Unlike many of its industry compatriots, Amazon has been largely on the sidelines when it comes to AR and VR hardware. Google, Meta, Microsoft and Snap all have had a variety of devices in the market at one time or another, and Apple’s plans to develop its own AR glasses have been an open secret for some time.

AR glasses drawing From a patent filed by Amazon in 2013.Image: Amazon

Amazon does have its own smart glasses, dubbed Echo Frames, but that product does not currently have a visual component. The company did file for some patents for entertainment-focused video glasses almost a decade ago, but there’s no indication these efforts were pursued much further.

Interestingly, a number of the job listings describe the project as related to a “magical and useful, new-to-world XR consumer product,” suggesting it may be looking to establish a new product category. Others even describe it as a “a new-to-world smart-home product.”


From a patent filed by Amazon in 2012.Image: Amazon

Companies do frequently use boilerplate language in their job listings that gets only minimally tweaked for new roles, and at times purposely obfuscate their intentions behind overly broad language. However, Amazon did at one point pursue the idea of glasses-free AR based on devices that were to include both projectors as well as cameras and other sensors.

The company did file a number of patents related to this technology around a decade ago, with some of those filings depicting ceiling-mounted projectors capable of projecting images on tables, walls and other surfaces. A source familiar with those efforts told Protocol that they didn’t progress past the concept stage at the time, in part due to challenges with projection technologies.

Amazon did recently dive back into projection mapping with the Glow, which is billed as an interactive video chatting device for children. The company has more recently doubled down on exploring far-out ideas for future hardware products.

In March, it launched a new internal Futures Design group dedicated to “helping Amazon experience what it’s like to live in the future, today.” The group is being led by Kharis O'Connell, who previously worked as a designer for AR headset maker Meta View. More recently, O'Connell helped Google design its AR operating system.

Workplace

Why companies cut staff after raising millions

Are tech firms blowing millions in funding just weeks after getting it? Experts say it's more complicated than that.

Bolt, Trade Republic, HomeLight, and Stord all drew attention from funding announcements that happened just weeks or days before layoffs.

Photo: Pulp Photography/Getty Images

Fintech startup Bolt was one of the first tech companies to slash jobs, cutting 250 employees, or a third of its staff, in May. For some workers, the pain of layoffs was a shock not only because they were the first, but also because the cuts came just four months after Bolt had announced a $355 million series E funding round and achieved a peak valuation of $11 billion.

“Bolt employees were blind sided because the CEO was saying just weeks ago how everything is fine,” an anonymous user wrote on the message board Blind. “It has been an extremely rough day for 1/3 of Bolt employees,” another user posted. “Sadly, I was one of them who was let go after getting a pay-raise just a couple of weeks ago.”

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Climate

The fight to define the carbon offset market's future

The world’s largest carbon offset issuer is fighting a voluntary effort to standardize the industry. And the fate of the climate could hang in the balance.

It has become increasingly clear that scaling the credit market will first require clear standards and transparency.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

There’s a major fight brewing over what kind of standards will govern the carbon offset market.

A group of independent experts looking to clean up the market’s checkered record and the biggest carbon credit issuer on the voluntary market is trying to influence efforts to define what counts as a quality credit. The outcome could make or break an industry increasingly central to tech companies meeting their net zero goals.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Policy

White House AI Bill of Rights lacks specific guidance for AI rules

The document unveiled today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is long on tech guidance, but short on restrictions for AI.

While the document provides extensive suggestions for how to incorporate AI rights in technical design, it does not include any recommendations for restrictions on the use of controversial forms of AI.

Photo: Ana Lanza/Unsplash

It was a year in the making, but people eagerly anticipating the White House Bill of Rights for AI will have to continue waiting for concrete recommendations for future AI policy or restrictions.

Instead, the document unveiled today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is legally non-binding and intended to be used as a handbook and a “guide for society” that could someday inform government AI legislation or regulations.

Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights features a list of five guidelines for protecting people in relation to AI use:

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Enterprise

Microsoft’s new chief partner officer: 'Customers need help'

The new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program forces new certification requirements on the hundreds of thousands of partners that sell and support its products and services. Nicole Dezen says those changes now give customers “total clarity” into which ones are best suited to meet their cloud needs.

Nicole Dezen, Microsoft's chief partner officer, talked with Protocol last week about the company's announcement.

Photo: Microsoft

As Microsoft launches the biggest overhaul of its partner program today since 2010, its new chief partner officer says the changes will help enterprises and other customers more easily identify qualified partners that are the right fit to help with their cloud needs.

“All of our priorities, all of our design principles, are built with the customer in mind,” Nicole Dezen, Microsoft’s chief partner officer and corporate vice president of global partner solutions, told Protocol in an exclusive interview, her first since being appointed in July.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Latest Stories
Bulletins