Meta’s Augmented Reality Vision Faces Uncertainty as Key Engineer Steps Down

The departure of Don Box, Meta's Head of Augmented Reality Software, raises questions about the company's progress in developing its custom operating system for its planned AR glasses.

Meta Platforms Inc. (META.O), previously known as Facebook, is facing a potential setback in its ambitious augmented reality (AR) project. The company's head of augmented reality software, Don Box, is stepping down from his role, a spokesperson confirmed last Friday. This development raises questions about Meta's progress in developing a custom operating system for its planned AR glasses, a pivotal part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's vision for an immersive virtual “metaverse.”

A Veteran Engineer's Departure

Don Box, a veteran engineer with a history of building major technology systems from their infancy, announced his departure internally this week. His exit, especially at this critical juncture, could potentially disrupt progress on the operating system, a key component of Meta's AR glasses project.

Meta's AR Glasses Roadmap

Meta plans to deliver the first generation of its AR glasses by next year. However, these are intended for internal use and a select group of developers only. The company aims to ship its first AR glasses to consumers in 2027. Whether the operating system that Box's team was developing will feature in the first-generation AR glasses remains to be determined.

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The Metaverse Vision

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described AR glasses as a magnum opus, a key piece in his vision to build hardware that can provide access to an immersive virtual “metaverse” and replace laptops and mobile devices. However, Meta's Reality Labs division, which is focused on metaverse development, recently admitted that they still face “quite a few challenges” in bringing an AR product to market.

Previous Projects and Challenges

Box was initially hired by Meta in 2021 to chart a path forward after the failure of its XROS project, which aimed to create a unified custom operating system for its virtual reality headsets, Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, and planned augmented reality glasses. Box had divided the 300-person XROS unit into dedicated teams for each device line and personally took over the team focused on AR software.

Don Box's Legacy

Before joining Meta, Box had worked at Microsoft since 2002, where he led the creation of the Xbox One operating system and later headed Microsoft's core operating system group. His departure from Meta is a significant loss, given his experience and his pivotal role in developing the company's AR software.

The departure of Don Box, a seasoned engineer and a key figure in Meta's AR software development, raises questions about the company's progress and ambitious metaverse vision. As Meta grapples with these challenges, the timeline and roadmap for its first-generation AR glasses, and ultimately, the realization of its metaverse, remain uncertain. The tech industry and consumers will watch closely as Meta navigates this new reality.

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About the Author: Alejandro Rodriguez

Alejandro Rodriguez, a tech writer with a computer science background, excels in making complex tech topics accessible. His articles, focusing on consumer electronics and software, blend technical expertise with relatable storytelling. Known for insightful reviews and commentaries, Alejandro's work appears in various tech publications, engaging both enthusiasts and novices. Follow us on Facebook