Just What is Magic Leap?

Colin McMahon
Jul 7, 2016

In the emerging virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space, one company’s name is continually discussed, and usually with great interest. I personally heard the name “Magic Leap” long before hearing about StarVR, the Meta 2, or even the HTC Vive. Yet while the name is everywhere, information is lacking. Going to Magic Leap’s website does not help matters. Users are treated to elaborate videos showcasing amazing demonstrations. It appears to be AR with the quality of high-end VR – yet nowhere is even a headset present.

So – just what exactly is Magic Leap?

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The answer depends on who is being asked. According to Magic Leap founder, Rony Abovitz, the technology behind Magic Leap is a method of “mixed reality,” which he defines as overlaying virtual reality in the real world. Many other companies, however, simply refer to this as AR – a term that I would more ascribe to what is known about Magic Leap. That does not mean, however, that Magic Leap should be lumped in with the Hololens, the Meta 2, or any of the other AR lenses being put forth.

To start with – Magic Leap has no definite plans to release a headset. The company has stated that it plans to release something – eventually, but have been secretive as to what that something might be (“secretive” is the best word to describe Magic Leap in general).

Another reason is that – while Magic Leap may be AR – it is very high quality AR. While no specifics have been released as to how exactly Magic Leap works (secretive), the company is able to project images that can be seen at any angle and, apparently, at any distance. The images are projected at photo-realistic quality, and the limited hands-on previews report no image clipping or difficulties mapping to the physical environment.

The previews have also all reported using a headset or “goggles” to view these images, so the idea of Magic Leap as an AR headset is reinforced. No pictures of this prototype headset have been released to the public. Below is the sole image that has been leaked. There is no way of knowing if this is the current prototype that Magic Leap still operates with:

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InfoTrends’ Opinion

The AR/VR industry has reason to be paying attention to whatever info escapes from Magic Leap’s Florida headquarters. The company has received a billion dollar investment from major players like Google and Alibaba. What has been shown so far to the public has been enough to ignite fierce curiosity, and what has been shown to investors has moved far more than that. While Hololens and Meta 2 are currently in position to control the AR landscape, Magic Leap appears to have the technology to create a very real splash. Just do not expect them to be forthcoming as to when, or in what form, that shake-up will occur.

Update

Magic Leap’s Social Media representative reached out to further clarify the company’s claim of mixed reality. They stated that, since the virtual objects in Magic Leap are fully interactive (will respond to touch, voice, the environment, and other interactions) – this separates them from the simple projected images of AR. The following video was also provided for more clarification:

 

 

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