Machine Learning and Augmented Reality enriching Mobile Apps

Deep Varma, Vice President of Engineering, Trulia
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Deep Varma, Vice President of Engineering, Trulia

Deep Varma, Vice President of Engineering, Trulia

1. In the light of your experience as a VP of Engineering, Trulia, what are the technological trends and challenges that you’ve seen in mobile applications arena?

• Of course, we are seeing more and more companies leveraging both augmented reality and machine learning to optimize mobile experiences. With machine learning, companies are moving models from their backend servers to consumers’ mobile devices directly; which decreases load times and allows for more engaging and innovative experiences. Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore are really helping to enable this. In the same vein, there are trends taking shape with voice integration and voice UI. Voice is simplifying the experience and will play an important role in the future. 

• An ongoing challenge is the inherent conflict between building experiences for both web and native apps, as well as building for multiple platforms. It can be challenging to build a rich mobile experience for different operating systems, especially when each OS is pushing toward something different.

 In the near future, machine-learned models will become much easier to scale directly to devices and, therefore, further improve quality and performance of mobile apps  

2. From a generic standpoint, could you talk about your approach to identify the right partnership/ solutions provider from the lot?

• Before you can identify the right partner, you should evaluate your needs–do you really need to buy, or can you build the technologies in-house? If something is truly unique to your business or core to your needs, you should develop it yourself. If you are looking for something to complement what you already have, then buying might make sense. In Trulia’s case, for example, it made sense for our team to develop our own computer vision system, and train models with the unique data that we collect from real estate listings, versus trying to source data from an outside partner. When you are the category expert, I think it’s best to look within your org and at your own data and build from it.

3. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?

• In 2018, Trulia’s engineering org is focused on rebuilding our architecture to be more scalable. This investment will move us into a micro services strategy, and not only will it enable us to use new technologies, like GraphQL and Next. js, it will help us move faster and deliver more innovative products to our consumers.

4. Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and reflect on your leadership strategy?

• I believe that being collaborative and acting with integrity are fundamental traits of a leader. These are two things I focus on both at work and in my personal life with my family. I have two boys and have always iterated to them the age-old saying, “two heads are better than one.” Don’t work in a silo, embrace other people’s differences and perspectives, it will open your eyes and help you reach your goals.

5. How would you see the evolution a few years from now with regard to disruptions and transformations within themobile applications arena?

• In the near future, machine-learned models will become much easier to scale directly to devices and, therefore, further improve quality and performance of mobile apps. With that, we’ll see more progress in virtual reality and augmented reality applications, which will really shift the way we interact with our devices and with each other. For example, AR can enable home seekers to one-day tailors their journey to their lifestyle and availability. Meaning, a busy mom might be able to check out a home and neighborhood without having to take the time to visit an open house during a jam-packed weekend.

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