Snapchat is rumored to be working on a Google Glass-style competitor, and it’s continuing its hiring spree to recruit more people to its project.
Among the latest additions to Snapchat are two hardware specialists from action-camera maker GoPro, including a mechanical engineer, and the technical recruiter for Google’s Project Aura, the group responsible for Glass.
A source familiar with the matter tells Business Insider that the company is “serious” about making a hardware play, though the person would not share details about the specific product.
Snapchat’s hardware ambitions first came to light in March, when CNET pointed to an earlier string of notable hardware hires, including eyewear designer Lauryn Morries and a former employee who listed his experience as working on highly miniaturized and very low-power electronics.
CNET speculated that Snapchat could be working on a Google Glass-like device, which would mark a major expansion for the social-networking startup, currently valued at more than $18 billion.
Snapchat also quietly bought Vergence Labs, a company that specialized in a smart-glasses product that recorded video of what you see, in 2014.
It looks like Snapchat isn’t done building its hardware team.
Dan Stein, who led the recruitment for Project Aura, the home to Google Glass and other wearable initiatives, joined Snapchat in May, according to his LinkedIn bio. Stein’s job at Snapchat is to be a recruiter for its “Special Initiatives.”
Michael Ryner, who lists himself on LinkedIn as “Principal Mechanical Engineer,” joined Snapchat in January.
John Novilla came on board in April as a Quality Engineer. Novilla’s previous work at Microsoft included working with suppliers to ensure high-quality hardware for the Lumia Icon, a visual-quality role that meant that he was working directly with devices.
He’s also not the only former Nokia hardware designer. Kun Huang worked on the designs of several Nokia phones and is now a designer at Snapchat.
The company appears to have big plans for augmented reality, which may tie in to the hardware effort. A job posting on Snapchat’s website for a “3D mobile software engineer” provides a few intriguing clues, with requirements such as:
- Bring the most innovative product concepts to life to help push the boundaries of mobile user experience and interface design across a new category of computer vision productsInvestigate and solve exciting and difficult challenges in image recognition, classification, and augmented reality
The company is also still actively recruiting for its “Snap Lab” experimental division. Its job board currently lists four open positions, including a 3-D computer-vision engineer as well as a mobile-prototype developer.
Snapchat declined to comment or elaborate on its hardware plans.