Twitter recently hired former Apple designer Alessandro Sabatelli to run its fledgling efforts in augmented reality and virtual reality, the company confirmed to me today. As first noted by Upload VR, Sabatelli was previously the CEO of IXOMOXI, a small startup whose first product created visual filters for VR devices. As the company's LinkedIn page put it: "Targeting millennials at music festivals, our mission is to make fun more fun." If you've ever gone to Coachella and wished you could filter the world through a variety of psychedelic filters on your Gear VR headset so as to enhance your mushroom trip during CHVRCHES' set, IXOMOXI had you covered.
But now Sabatelli is at Twitter, and the company is saying less than zero about what he's up to — other than that he's currently leading the augmented reality team within Twitter Cortex. Cortex is a new part of the company that is charged with "developing state-of-the-art machine learning capabilities to refine and transform our products." The news of Sabatelli's hire comes a week after Twitter announced it had bought Magic Pony, a startup whose first product sharpens low-resolution and blurred video in real time, which will also become part of Cortex.
Psychedelic filters to enhance your mushroom trip
Anyway! All you really care about here is what the eventual VR version of Twitter is going to look like. So here are 7 totally unanswered questions about Twitter VR.
1. Will Twitter VR create an immersive Twitter interface in which animated tweets gently float in front of your face, allowing you to like and retweet posts with an elegant, gesture-based interface?
2. Will Twitter VR embed location-enabled tweets within the world as virtual billboards, allowing advertisers to promote their wares to passersby?
3. Will Jack Dorsey be a playable character in Twitter VR?
4. Will harassment feel more visceral in Twitter VR? For example, could a death threat follow you around and shout at you?
5. Will you be able to edit tweets in Twitter VR by slapping them repeatedly with your hands?
6. Is this maybe just about turning Periscopes into 360-degree videos?
7. When you unfollow someone in Twitter VR, do they literally explode in front of your face?
And now an eighth question: what would you like out of your Twitter VR experience? Sound off in the comments!