It's a game of musical chairs lately in the VR world. On the same day that Xiaomi's Hugo Barra revealed he would head Facebook's Oculus VR division, HTC VP of Design Claude Zellweger tweeted that he's moving to Google's Daydream VR project. A reliable source tells Engadget that he actually departed last July, but stayed on during a grace period, much as former CEO Peter Chou did in 2015. Zellweger not only headed up the creation of the HTC Vive, he and One & Co. partner Scott Croyle were responsible for the design of the original HTC One smartphone.
Of late, Zellweger has focused on the Vive's design, but as we detailed in a 2015 profile, he created much of the design language at HTC. The Taiwanese company bought his One & Co. design firm way back in 2008, and after Scott Croyle departed in 2014, followed by his successor Jonah Becker the next year, Zellweger was the last member of the original team. Daniel Hundt currently heads HTC's smartphone design division, while Vive is now a separate, fully owned subsidiary.
The Vive team created numerous prototypes of the headset and controller before arriving at the final consumer model. Their work paid off, though as most critics consider it ahead of the Oculus Rift in terms of technology (though not comfort), with more realistic tracking and images.
That expertise will no doubt be a big help to the Google's VR team. The Daydream was surprisingly good, for a mobile headset, but the search giant no doubt has bigger plans with it. Hopefully we'll learn a bit more about those in May at Google's big I/O conference, the event where it first revealed the original Daydream concept.
Update: HTC has confirmed Zellweger's departure, saying "we appreciate his considerable contirubtion to HTC and wish him well in his future endeavors." Its full statement is below:
HTC can confirm that Claude Zellweger has left the Company. We appreciate his considerable contribution to HTC, and wish him well in his future endeavors. HTC continues to invest in talent and recruitment as part of our broader strategy to ensure the continued strength and integrity of the company's organizational structure.