Tesla snags Microsoft video game and augmented reality engineer to lead UI engineering

Tesla has hired a new executive, long time video game engineer Scott Sims from Microsoft, to lead user interface engineering as the automaker’s new ‘Director of UI Engineering’.

Sims joined Tesla over the last month, according to his recently updated LinkedIn profile.

The engineer has been working in the video game industry for the better part of the last decade and he has been involved with popular titles such as the Halo franchise and Microsoft Kinect Sports game, which uses the tech firm’s motion-sensing technology as player inputs.

More recently, Sims was directly working for Microsoft as ‘Principal Software Development Manager’. He described his job at the company:

“AR & 3D reconstruction on mobile devices. Managed computer vision, UI and app teams developing monocular SLAM and 3D reconstruction running real time on resource constrained hardware.”

There are some parallels with what Tesla is trying to do in its cars, which are also running some advanced applications on resource-constrained hardware.

As we previously reported, Tesla has been increasingly hiring from the video game industry for its software team.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that he hires a lot of game programmers at SpaceX:

“We actually hire a lot of our best software engineers out of the gaming industry. In gaming there’s a lot of smart engineering talent doing really complex things. [Compared to] a lot of the algorithms involved in massive multiplayer online games…a docking sequence [between spacecraft] is actually relatively straightforward. So I’d encourage people in the gaming industry to think about creating the next generation of spacecraft and rockets.”

Apparently, the same principles apply to the CEO’s other company, Tesla, where the company has also been hiring several software engineers from the video game industry, especially for the Autopilot programs.

As for the user interface, it has been evolving a lot in Tesla’s vehicles. Here’s a look at the different versions of the UI on the center screen over the years:

Some significant changes here, but Tesla’s user interface also involves its mobile app, instrument cluster, and much more at this point.

With the focus on autonomous driving, the in-car experience is expected to evolve rapidly over the next few years and it will be an interesting aspect to follow closely.

A few years ago, Musk was talking about opening up its system to third-party apps through ‘phone mirroring’, like Android Auto and Apple Carplay, but it now looks like those plans have faded away as Tesla is focusing on keeping the user experience in-house.

Let us know what UI changes you’d like to see in Tesla’s vehicles in the comment section below.

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