Augmented reality company Meta, which was founded by Israeli Meron Gribetz, will open a development center in Israel by the end of the year. Gribetz, the CEO of the Silicon Valley-based company, made the announcement on Monday during the Forbes Under 30 Summit held in Israel this week, attended by 600 promising young people in their fields from all over Israel. Augmented reality is technology that provides the user a view of a scene that is augmented by computer-generated input.
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Meta is now recruiting someone to head its Israel operations. It is not yet known where the offices will be, but the choice will fall somewhere between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Meta has 100 employees in California, and is expected to double this number over the next year. So far the company has raised $25 million.
Meta’s new Israeli development center will mostly concentrate on the company’s main products. “We are now building the model of operations for the center and I have great aspirations for it,” Gribetz told TheMarker. He said the company wants to build the center between Jerusalem, which leads in machine vision, and Tel Aviv, where the graphics experts are.
“I don’t want the center to deal with only marginal research and development but I believe there are amazing and brilliant people here on a global level in all the levels we deal with: hardware, machine vision, graphic engines and application development – and all this in such a small geographical area,” said Gribetz. For now he is not giving an estimate of how many people Meta will hire in Israel.
Meta began preliminary sales of the second generation of its augmented reality glasses in March. For now, they are mostly targeting developers who will develop applications. Among the uses for the glasses Gribetz showed the audience at the conference, in the first demonstration of the new product outside the United States, was a three-dimensional hologram in which two people wearing the glasses could be seen, each from their own perspective, watching the other’s holographic image on a real-time video call.
Meta’s center in Israel will be responsible for ties with the community of local developers in addition to its own development work. Over the past 10 days, Meta has sold more units than what it had sold in its first two years of business, said Gribetz. So far the company has sold a few thousand units. The second generation glasses cost $949 and will be shipped during the summer.
The plan is for the augmented reality glasses to replace almost everything, at least related to computers, smart phones, televisions and many other devices – along with the software for all these devices, such as operating systems – and save money by providing a single device for all these uses.
Last July, Magic Leap, which operates in a similar technological field as Meta, opened a development center in Israel. Magic Leap is one of the hottest and most ambitious companies in the business, and Google is one of its investors. Magic Leap raised $793 million in February, at a company value of $5 billion. But Gribetz says the two companies are in different businesses. Magic Leap is spending most of its money developing hardware, while Meta believes in partnering with other firms who will build the hardware while it focuses on the software, he says, adding that Magic Leap focuses on consumer uses, while Meta is going after the professional crowd.