Microsoft poaches ex-Apple exec to lead mixed reality hardware division

Ruben Caballero spent 14 years with Apple and will now work on Microsoft's HoloLens and AI projects

Microsoft has hired former Apple wireless executive Ruben Caballero to spearhead its hardware division that makes its enterprise-ready HoloLens mixed reality headsets.

After spending 14 years at Apple, most recently leading its 5G modem project, Caballero left in April last year. Almost a year later, he’s updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new position with Microsoft.

Caballero will serve as Microsoft’s corporate vice president for engineering in the hardware design and technology division, holding responsibility for its mixed reality and artificial intelligence (AI) projects. These include the firm’s line of enterprise-ready augmented reality (AR) headset HoloLens, as well as “special projects”.

This area of technology has been rapidly maturing over the last few months, although remains very much embryonic. Still, mixed reality may yet present a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the coming years, whether this is to render internal processes more efficient, or to improve customer services. 

The former Apple executive founded and led the company’s wireless design and technology group, which included R&D, roadmap, architecture, design, validation, certification and testing for all Apple hardware. He was also in charge of developing wireless technology, such as antennas inside iPhone handsets, iPads and Macs. 

The division he led was eventually swallowed into the company’s custom chip division, run by John Srouji, and Caballero left the company.

His addition to Microsoft’s ranks has come months after the company began shipping its HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset. His experience will no doubt be utilised in the design and production of future editions, as well as pieces of mixed reality hardware. 

The HoloLens 2 presents a major improvement on the first edition of Microsoft’s flagship enterprise headset, both functionally and technologically. Beyond improving the hardware, the company has also tried into improving the range of use cases, and the software at users’ disposal to make the most of the technology.

Apple itself is predicted to begin experimenting with AR headsets, although the company hasn’t made as much progress to date as the likes of Microsoft with the HoloLens or Google with its Google Glass hardware.

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