Main image of article Amazon Reportedly Building Out Augmented Reality (AR) Staff

Amazon is reportedly hiring technologists for a top-secret augmented reality (AR) project, according to an analysis of job postings by Protocol

Those open positions include UI/UX designers, technical program managers, and software engineers who specialize in “XR/AR devices” (“XR” is an industry term for both AR and virtual reality (VR)). The job postings allude to a “magical and useful new-to-world consumer product” that could eventually reach “mass production.”

As Protocol notes, Amazon has spent the past decade filing a number of patents related to AR, specifically “glasses-free” AR experiences powered by a system of projectors and sensors. Other patents have sketched out “video glasses,” although Amazon’s current generation of “smart glasses” don’t have any kind of video or AR feature. 

If Amazon enters the AR space, it could heighten the growing tension between tech giants over the technology. Facebook recently rebranded itself as Meta, and will pour billions of dollars over the next several years into AR and VR technologies; as part of that effort, it’s reportedly poached engineers and other technologists from Apple, which has responded by paying out insane retention bonuses (and hiring people away from Meta).

Meanwhile, Microsoft is still investing in its HoloLens, an AR headset aimed at an enterprise audience. And Google is reportedly hiring AR experts to help build a customized AR operating system, which could foreshadow the search-engine giant’s attempt at launching an AR headset and apps.

Despite all that big-tech interest in AR, though, it still remains a relatively niche industry from a hiring perspective. Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, estimates that less than 10,000 jobs requiring AR-related skills popped up in 2021, although it predicts that AR-related jobs will grow 64.4 percent over the next two years. The median salary for AR-related positions is $84,000—notably below the average technologist salary of $104,566