May 24 2022

What is it like building new technology for the future of AR/VR?

By Meta Careers
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Ofer Shacham was happy at his job at a well-known tech company when he got a call from the Reality Labs (back then, AR/VR) group at Meta. “I initially said I wasn’t interested in leaving my job, where I was working on exciting chip technology for phones and other devices, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take the meeting with Michael Abrash, Head of the Reality Labs Research Group,” he remembers. “I often say that I came into that meeting with a ‘chip’ on my shoulder, thinking that I was at the forefront of silicon innovations.”
But it wasn’t long into the conversation when Ofer says he discovered the work he was doing wasn’t as innovative or future-focused as he thought. “I realized I was working on ‘old’ technology and saw how Meta was building the future. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Now at Meta for nearly four years, Ofer is Vice President, Head of Custom Compute Platforms, where he’s following his dream of leading silicon innovation as part of Meta’s Agile Silicon Team (also known as FAST) within Reality Labs.

Meet the custom compute team

Ofer’s team is working to create high compute, low-power SoCs by taking a broad and holistic approach to the way they’re developing them, and user experience is at the heart of everything the custom compute team does. “We’re not focused on marketing checkboxes or what other companies are doing,” Ofer shares. “We care about working vertically with other XR teams and groups to uncover as much as we can about which technologies to build into our chips, enabling future end-user experiences for people with AR and VR glasses. ​​We're excited to continue taking a parallel innovation approach by investing in building custom silicon solutions. We’ll also remain committed to adding Meta's unique customizations alongside our industry partners."
The custom compute platform team collaborates across regions and with a variety of teams—including product management, hardware and software engineering, design, and production— to help define what’s needed. Then they deliver the silicon platform with embedded software layers that expose its unique features to developers. “We cover a wide variety of technologies, including computer vision and machine learning, graphics, imaging, audio, security and more,” Ofer explains. “We also cover a wide range of the stack, from algorithmic development and architecture to VLSI and embedded software. Because this technology is new—we’re building supercomputers that are small enough to fit into a pair of reading glasses—there’s no previous product to build on. That creates a unique opportunity for people who enjoy working in an environment where things change quickly and there are endless new challenges to solve.”

A world-class team of experts solving complex problems

Ofer’s team is composed of a diverse mix of talented experts from around the world who are up to the task. Each member of the group brings their unique experience and a passion for the team’s mission and long-term vision to the table with them. This is something that is integral to the company’s philosophical approach to leadership. “Meta is a bottoms up organization,” Ofer explains. “We know that good ideas come from anywhere and exciting things can happen when people feel empowered.” This means everyone—from recent graduates to industry veterans—has the opportunity to make an impact.
“Meta’s company culture is centered on innovation and ensuring that everyone has the resources they need to make these big impact projects happen, and that they’re successful.”
Part of the reason each member of the team has such potential to make a major contribution to their work is because of the strong support everyone on the SoC team receives from the leadership at Meta. “Taking risks and being bold is encouraged because everyone is learning together,” Ofer says, adding that there’s always room to think outside of the box and try new things. The team is seeing vertical success with the growth of augmented and virtual reality, and they’re discovering new ways to think about technical aspects while building the best possible user experience. Every day presents new possibilities, one of the biggest reasons why Ofer says he’s eager to see the team grow.

Building the next generation of metaverse AR/VR products

Ofer’s team offers tremendous opportunities for people who are interested in developing ground-breaking new technology. “This is a once in a lifetime chance for those interested in working on products that can truly change the world and how we connect with one another,” he explains. “And this is technology without a legacy code that we need to maintain, so the team working on this has the opportunity to build a vision for the future together.”
Ofer’s hope is that the team will evolve by welcoming passionate, curious people—even if they don’t necessarily check all of the boxes for a specific role. “A lot of what we do can be taught,” he says. “It doesn’t matter as much if someone doesn’t know how to code in a specific language because that’s something you can learn. I’m more interested in whether or not people have qualities that will enable our team to succeed.” This can mean everything from finding people who embrace ambiguity to those who do well working with a lot of moving parts. “I want to meet people who can look at a complex system and break it down into smaller parts, people who can see a complex problem and then start chipping away at it bit by bit, people who can bring order to where there was previously chaos.”
For those looking to join the custom compute team, Ofer has some words of wisdom. “Be humble, forward-thinking, and be comfortable with solving problems that don’t have an answer yet,” he says. “We’re building things that don’t exist yet and we need people with different backgrounds and experiences from around the world to accomplish that. You may just be the person we’re looking for.”

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