Have you seen Magic Leap?
It really is a magical concept: Put on a pair of goggles and watch lifelike virtual objects invade your real world.
We’ve heard about this device for years but have still never seen it — we have no idea what it looks like. But according to the lucky few who’s tried the mysterious device, it is “so badass you can’t believe it.”
Wired published a long feature story about Magic Leap on Tuesday. Of all the virtual and augmented reality headsets out there and in development, Wired says Magic Leap is “the most impressive on the visual front — the best at creating the illusion that virtual objects truly exist.”
This secretive device is apparently so impressive that giant entertainment companies like Warner Bros. are backing Magic Leap. It’s raised a whopping $1.4 billion in three rounds of investments, with support from powerful players like Google — not its investment arm, the big G itself — and prominent VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.
Most of the big tech companies are currently developing similar augmented and virtual reality technologies, like Microsoft (HoloLens), Facebook (Oculus VR) and Sony (PlayStation VR).
Apple is also quietly working in this space; the company reportedly has “hundreds” of people working on hardware prototypes for AR/VR technologies.
Yet, despite so much interest around AR and VR in Silicon Valley, it appears Magic Leap — based in Florida, nowhere near California — is ahead of everyone else in this space.
Apple should buy this company.
By most accounts, it sounds like Magic Leap has created a technology that won’t be easily replicated.
The key difference in Magic Leap’s product is something called “lightfield” technology. When Tech Insider met with Magic Leap last year, the company only told us this relates to the way the technology beams light into your eyes, but would not elaborate further than that. All we know is that lightfield technology is responsible for making the virtual images you see through the headset look incredibly bright and realistic.
Even more important though is the technology has the potential to one day replace all the gadgets you carry around with you and all the screens in your home. If you could wear a lightweight pair of glasses that could beam whatever content you need straight into your eyes, why would you ever need to use a phone, computer, or even a TV ever again? That kind of technology could be massively disruptive to Apple’s core hardware business one day.
That said, there’s still so much we don’t know about what Magic Leap is working on. How much will it cost once it’s ready for consumers, and what will that even look like? Will it be fashionable? Will it be covered in wires? Will you be able to go anywhere? What’s the battery life like? Will this be banned in certain places?
We reached out to Magic Leap with these questions, but it’s been incredibly mysterious about everything so far.
Apple will eventually need a hot new product. The iPhone is still golden, but the iPad has matured, the Watch hasn’t made a huge splash, and the rumoured car is still years away. (Plus an Apple Car likely won’t be able to reach the scale of an affordable consumer gadget like the iPhone.) Having a leg-up in the mixed reality space would be invaluable, and Apple, with its $216 billion in cash, can certainly afford it.