Essential's chief of user experience Liron Damir is leaving the Palo Alto, California-based company to join Google and lead the design of Google Home products, the designer announced on LinkedIn earlier this week. Damir is hence leaving the tech startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin less than four months after joining the company, which is yet another blow for Essential that has yet to launch its Essential PH-1 flagship which was already supposed to be available for purchase, according to the company's original promises.
Damir held numerous positions in the design industry over the last 12 years, having worked as webOS Director of Design prior to the startup's acquisition by LG Electronics in early 2013, then continuing to lead the design of the operating system by working for the South Korean tech giant until summer 2014. He was poached from LG by Pebble in August 2014 where he worked as the company's Head of Design for just under a year and a half before being promoted to the Vice President of Design. His stint with Pebble ended following the company's closure in December and while the now-defunct firm's intellectual property was acquired by Fitbit, Damir took some time off work and returned to the industry this spring, having been hired as the Head of UX by Essential. Due to his relatively short stint with the firm, it's unclear how much Damir contributed to the design of the software running on the Essential PH-1 and the Ambient OS that's powering the company's smart speaker.
The veteran designer didn't share any more details on his exact responsibilities at Google, but with his expertise being software design, his hiring may indicate that the Mountain View, California-based tech giant is looking to ennoble its Google Home product lineup with devices that offer a more visual experience than its first AI-powered speaker does. With Amazon recently launching the Echo Show, Alphabet's subsidiary may also be exploring the possibility of delivering a smart speaker equipped with a touch screen. The original Google Home lineup was launched by the company last October and its successors may be revealed around the same time this year, though Damir likely won't be too involved with the initial versions of products that Google might be planning to release in the coming months.