The Facebook company’s Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) org builds world-class virtual and augmented reality hardware and software that help people around the world come together, connect, and bridge physical distance. These technologies and products have tremendous potential to transform how people play, work, learn, communicate, and experience the world. Ultimately, our vision is to build the future of computing with human connection at the center.
Paving the way for the future of AR/VR is our team at the Cork office in Ireland. Led by a diverse and interdisciplinary group of research scientists, hardware product engineers, semiconductor technologists, and more, the team in Cork is inventing and developing innovative display technologies that will enable future generations of AR/VR devices.
Driving Innovation Across the AR Ecosystem
Pádraig H. was formerly the COO and Head of Engineering of InfiniLED, a display startup out of the Tyndall National Institute, acquired by Facebook in 2016. He’s now the Director for Hardware Display Development, leading teams in Cork and Redmond, and is the site lead for the office in Cork. He says, “Virtual reality is the most immersive way to interact with the real world. Augmented reality is the overlay of virtual images on the real world to enhance human perception, memory, and cognitive learning. My team is designing and manufacturing tiny form factor color displays for these systems at a scale that has not been manufactured before.”
Among the components and display solutions researched at Cork is micro Light Emitting Diode (LED) component technology. MicroLEDs are significantly smaller than the typical LEDs found in industrial and automotive applications, and offer low power and high resolution displays for system designers developing future AR devices.
Pádraig says, “The technologies we are developing are pioneering the industry and are fundamental to the success of AR/VR. They will make for deeper experiences, stronger connections, and richer lives. There are only a handful of companies capable of creating these products. It requires depth and breadth of technology and talent.”
Partnerships are also important for Pádraig’s team. “At Facebook, we have the full ecosystem required to design and develop AR products, including research, and hardware and software specialists across our entire XFN community. We also have developed a number of key partnerships globally to support our needs and help build solutions.”
The team has partnered closely with the Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, and with several of the major R&D institutes in the United States, France, and Germany.
Pádraig continues, “Our office in Cork is growing strongly, as we’re at the forefront of new and pioneering technology. This is the opportunity to be involved at an early stage in AR/VR product development and to be part of building the future. Unlike other industries where you’re iterating on new generation nodes of hardware, we at Facebook are developing exciting, brand-new technologies that will bring the world closer together. Our program timelines are aggressive and so we have a culture where things move fast and people learn quickly. We embrace team decision-making that delivers effective outcomes and provides the right levels of strategic alignment to the product needs. When the appropriate level of facts are combined with gut intuition, you tend to find the best solution to meet your product end goals.”
A Diverse, Vibrant, and Growing Community
At Facebook’s Cork campus, there are close to 30 different nationalities represented within the office, providing an environment where people are empowered to bring their diverse experiences and opinions to shape product development. “There’s a deep appreciation for different cultures and perspectives,” says Pádraig. “We work hard to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable and their voice is being heard, while also appreciating the unique skill set and talent of each individual.”
Team Cork (photo taken in 2019).
Ireland projects that Cork will be its fastest-growing city over the next 20 years, but it still has a small city feel. It’s home to the University College Cork (UCC), alongside big tech companies and startups. Our office location in the middle of the city gives team members a stronger sense of community.
“The majority of team members live within a short walking distance to the office. Outside of work, people share a close bond. People can find a community to support their interests and needs,” Pádraig says. “It’s also important to us to make an impact outside of Facebook’s walls. We’ve created STEM programs for young talented women locally, and we enjoy volunteering together. We’ve helped fundraise for the local charities and foundations to help eliminate homelessness and battle against the negative impact of social isolation and loneliness. We’re all inspired by Facebook’s mission to connect people and create community, and we try to incorporate it into our work and culture.”
Pádraig fundraising for Shine a Light Night, where the business community comes together for one night and sleep-out to raise vital funds for people experiencing homelessness in Ireland.
Pádraig adds, “As I look back over the past four years I’ve worked at Facebook’s Cork office, I’m incredibly proud of how we’ve helped build the local community and contributed to growing the economy.”
When asked what advice he’d share with people interested in opportunities at Facebook’s Cork office, Pádraig shares: “We look for people who are smart, talented, ambitious and eager to learn. People who aren’t afraid to tackle the unknown or ask the right questions. If you have a creative mind and technical expertise, this is the right place for you.”