Facebook’s vice president of AR and VR Hugo Barra is leaving the company, he announced (where else) on Facebook Monday.
“Today is my last day over Facebook Reality Labs, after 4 years of working on projects that were more exciting and challenging than anything I’ve encountered in my career, with some of the brightest minds and nicest people I’ve ever met, ”Barra wrote in the post. He said he intended to “explore the health care technology space” so that he could apply what he had learned in consumer technology to solve health care problems. “I believe society is still poorly equipped with the tools people need to really understand our health and take control of our health outcomes,” he wrote.
After serving as Google’s vice president of Android product management and then at Xiaomi for several years, Barra joined Facebook in 2017 to lead the Oculus VR team. In 2019 he moved to his current role, responsible “Building a Global AR / VR Partner Ecosystem” based in New York City, which eventually became part of Facebook Reality Labs.
Barra is leaving Facebook before the company launches its first consumer ‘smart glasses’, which were said last year to be a Ray-Ban branded product. He praised the project on Twitter last September, mentioning the launch in his farewell note (but gave no details of a release date other than “this year”). Barra said the development of the smart glasses became “his main focus on Facebook.”
More than excited to finally give a sneak peek at our Facebook partnership with Ray-Ban! Our first smart glasses will be launched next year, and that’s just the beginning … The future will be a classic, coming in 2021 pic.twitter.com/l9992ZQGoy
– Hugo Barra (@hbarra) September 16, 2020
But after the announcement in September that the smart glasses would come sometime in 2021, Facebook tried to dampen expectations about smart glasses; In March, CFO David Wehner said at a conference that the glasses would not come close to the technology Facebook hopes to eventually achieve in AR.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thanked Barra for his work in a response to Barra’s Facebook post: “Thank you for all you have done to help build the next computing platform and the entire ecosystem around it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I’ve learned so much working with you, and I’m curious what you’ll build next.”