The Curious Story of Magic Leap and Where To Now

Women Love Tech
on 23 September 2018

“There’s this amazing display we have in our brain already, it’s processed by our visual cortex. And I thought, we would never build a better display than that, so how could we get into that?” Rony Abovitz

After the releases of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard, and Hololens (Microsoft); Magic Leap decided to take a crack at the world of virtual and augmented reality. What ensued was a flurry of hype concerning what the product actually was, with a slavishly growing tech cult following every single move they make. Either way, it begs the question, are Magic Leap’s bold ambitions just too big a leap?

To really understand the hype, you need to follow the journey from the very beginning.

Magic Leap is a startup based in Plantation, Florida, founded by Rony Abovitz in 2010 with the goal of creating a product that provides an augmented reality experience like never before, called Magic Leap One.

With billions of dollars ($US2.3 billion) pouring in from several investors (notably Facebook and AT&T), Magic Leap promised, through spatial computing, to “bring cinema into the physical world”. Imagine playing games in 3D in your own living room, with your immediate surroundings adapting to whatever happens in the game itself. In 2015, Magic Leap gave us a sneak peek into what could be, with their original concept video below:

The first things that come to mind, is the phenomenon that was Pokémon Go, in 2016 as well as the many AR features on Snapchat. But it’s not exactly AR, neither is it VR like Samsung Gear or the Oculus Rift; it really is a one of a kind product, one that imitates the way in which our brain perceives light. Magic leap CEO and founder, Rony Abovitz explains:

“You don’t have something on top of the world. You don’t have a cell phone display in front of your eye, like what people think with VR. You just have something which feels like an integrated natural binding of digital and physical; that’s what we called Mixed Reality.”

Finally, after eight years of secrecy and hushes behind closed doors, Magic Leap released their product, Magic Leap One: Creator Edition, in the form of a headset called light wear, connected to a “miniature computer” called a light pack.

The design looks like something straight out of a faraway dystopia, and although light-weight and potentially game-changing, big names in the industry cut short its hype, notably Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, who in late August deemed Magic Leap to be more of a “Tragic heap”. Issues surrounding its visual capacity and effects have been at the top of critics’ list of problems, with people claiming that the view of sight is very limited, and the images sometimes being blurry at certain angles.

Unfortunately for Magic Leap, peoples’ high expectations ultimately transformed what was, and still is, a great idea for the future, into something much more anti-climactic. As Elon Musk said recently on a podcast with Joe Rogan, “Happiness is reality minus expectations”; so are people judging Magic Leap too soon, or have they really failed? Besides, I feel it is important to note that the Magic Leap One was released as a creator edition, made for developers, creators or explorers, and not necessarily for the average user. The signs are promising, maybe there’s work to be done, but the concept is definitely exciting. Whether or not they’ll fulfil the heated expectations they have created they have enormous potential, and only time can tell.

We’ll be one step closer to knowing on October 2 when the popular smartphone game “Angry Birds” invades the world of mixed reality and releases its new game using a Magic Leap headset.

Women Love Tech would like to thank Emeric Brard for this story

More About Emeric Brard

Emeric Brard is a regular contributor for Women Love Tech. He is a journalist who specialises in technology and sport. He currently runs his own football blog ArsenalBlogWeekly, which focuses on the performances of Arsenal Football Club. Ever since the age of six, Emeric has been watching and playing football, and has notably played in Australia, France, and currently England. In addition to that, he writes for The Carousel, as well as The Daily Telegraph. Emeric studied Communications and Media at Loughborough University in the UK.

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