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Twitter Hires Former Apple Designer Alessandro Sabatelli to Head Up VR and Augmented Reality

Twitter is ramping up its push into virtual reality and augmented reality content: The social media company has hired Alessandro Sabatelli, formerly a top user-interface designer at Apple, as director of AR and VR.

Sabatelli disclosed that he had joined Twitter on his LinkedIn page, describing his role as “empowering us all in the spatial computing revolution.” Twitter’s hiring of Sabatelli was first reported by UploadVR and was confirmed by a company rep.

At Twitter, Sabatelli will lead a new augmented-reality team within Twitter Cortex, the company’s unit focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Twitter this month acquired U.K. startup Magic Pony Technology for a reported $150 million, and said it would fold the team specializing in machine-learning visual processing into Twitter Cortex to enhance live and video offerings. The company describes Twitter Cortex as dedicated to “building a product in which people can easily find new experiences to share and participate in.”

Most recently, Sabatelli was CEO of music VR experience startup IXOMOXI. At Apple, where Sabatelli worked for nearly nine years, he was a UI designer for iOS, OS X and Watch OS operating systems and related software. Among the most notable projects he worked on were Apple’s YouTube app for the iPad; Siri for iOS; the fourth generation of Apple TV, and animation lead for iOS 7 including the Compass and Weather apps.

Twitter has dipped its toes into VR content, striking its first deal ad-supported deal for 360-degree video clips with Samsung for the NBA Finals earlier this month.

Last fall, Kevin Weil, then Twitter’s senior VP of product before he exited the company in January, hinted at its VR amibitions. “VR will be a fantastic world,” he told Variety, adding that Twitter “can work great in a VR device.”

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