Facebook’s virtual reality pioneer Mary Lou Jepsen is leaving the social network to cure diseases with wearable technology.
Jepsen, who led the Oculus consumer electronics and display design and Facebook engineering teams for just over a year, publicly resigned from the company Thursday during the Anita Borg Women of Vision Awards.
“I never stopped dreaming of how to create a wearable to communicate with our thoughts, how to do this at consumer electronics pricing. I want to get this to every doctor in the world,” Jepsen said during her keynote speech at the awards ceremony, CNET reported.
Jepsen’s new venture will focus on replacing the clunky, claustrophobia-inducing MRI machines used today with wearables.
News of Jepsen’s departure comes at a time when tech executives seem to be turning their attention away from the software and social platforms of Silicon Valley to solving health care problems.
Last month, Napster creator and former Facebook president Sean Parker announced a $250 million donation and new cancer treatment development program that aims to cure the disease through collaboration and innovation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a similar announcement in late 2015 when he and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan pledged 99 percent of their $45 billion fortune for medical advancement.
In both cases, ethical questions have emerged over whether such industry titans should have such a large stake in leading efforts that could affect the health and survival of millions of people throughout the world. However, the industry’s interest in health care goes beyond donations — going into health care is good for business, and working on cures could lead to valuable technological improvements, for example.
Facebook, Google, and Apple are all working on tech solutions to health problems. Apple poached Google X founder Yoky Matsuoka this week to lead its health initiatives, including the newly debuted CareKit, which will help patients recover from procedures and manage chronic diseases.