One of Microsoft’s most distinguished engineers, Blaise Agüera y Arcas, is joining Google.

According to a report in the New York Times, Arcas will join the machine learning team at Mountain View, Calif.-based Google. Arcas confirmed the rumor today, but did not offer further comment on his reasons for jumping ship.

During his tenure at Microsoft, Arcas examined emerging technologies and headed up a research & development team. He was also a key figure in the development of Bing Mobile and Bing Maps. His specialities include wearable computing, interaction design, digital maps, computer vision, and graphics.

In 2010, Arcas introduced Bing’s augmented reality maps at the annual TED conference.

It’s a major loss for Microsoft, particularly given that Google is a longstanding rival. Google and Microsoft have frequently been locked in bitter competition for top engineering candidates in Seattle and other locations around the country. Over the years, these tech giants have needed to come up with new and creative ways to recruit talented developers, including hackathons and code jams.

Arcas joined Microsoft in 2006 when his startup, Seadragon Software was acquired. He has risen to prominence through his TED talks, which are well worth a watch (see below).

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