Amazon to Enter Extended Reality Market With a ‘Magical’ Product

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(Photo: USPTO)
If you thought the future of immersive technology involved a fight between Apple, Sony, and Meta, think again. E-commerce powerhouse Amazon is preparing to enter the fray too. The company has posted several job listings looking for a wide range of senior folks to help it fulfill its mission. The positions vary in their duties but they all mention the same goal: “a magical and useful consumer product.”

The listings were first spotted by Protocol, and Amazon might have already started changing them behind the scenes to obscure its efforts. For example, a listing titled Sr. Technical Program Manager, New Products, says, “you will develop a magical and useful consumer product.” However, Protocol’s accounting reads differently, suggesting it was changed. It says, “You will develop an advanced XR research concept into a magical and useful new-to-world consumer product.” XR is an abbreviation of Extended Reality, which is a mix of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Several listings include boilerplate copy that reads, “Our team specializes in inventing new-to-world, category creating products using advanced sensing, display, and machine learning technologies.” Another listing for a role involving “XR/AR devices” has since been deleted. Despite the behind the scenes shenanigans, it seems clear this is some kind of metaverse solution. It could also be related to a previous patent from that allows for a 3D projection on a surface without the need for a headset.

Amazon’s Echo Frames allow integration with Alexa, but clearly the company has bigger goals. (Image: Amazon)

Protocol notes that Amazon has several patents for similar technology. Despite that, none of them have come to fruition. Many of them were also filed a very long time ago, with no products resulting from them. For example, a patent from 2015 describes, “Single-touch immersion control of head-mounted display (HMD) systems.” In general Amazon has stayed out of this market so far, but it could be looking to make quite a splash. That’s just an assumption based on its “new-to-world” reference, meaning in Amazon’s eyes this product category doesn’t exist yet.

If Amazon wades into these waters in the near future it’ll find itself in a suddenly crowded pool. 2023 and beyond are shaping up to be a pivotal period for the next generation of Head-Mounted Devices (HMD). Sony has already released the specs for its next-gen VR experienced, but it might not arrive until 2023. However, it’s not clear if Amazon is taking a gaming angle with its upcoming product. It might end up competing directly with Apple instead. The company has been working on its own hybrid AR/VR product for years now. Its headset has been delayed several times though, so it is also looking like a 2023 or 2024 product. Meta is also looking to really shake things up with a high-end headset code-named Project Cambria. It should be noted that companies patent all kinds of next-gen ideas, no matter how weird they sound. For example, Amazon previously patented using AR to project product reviews on your body.

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