Magic Leap CEO says critics can't understand the multibillion-dollar startup's technology without trying it: 'You could never experience TV on the radio'

Magic LeapMagic Leap One, the glasses that the company says it will ship this summer.
  • Magic Leap showed off some video filmed through its yet-to-launch smart glasses on Thursday.
  • Reactions online were mixed – many observers said they were underwhelmed.
  • Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz shot back in a series of Thursday morning tweets.

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz said that video can’t properly capture his startup’s much-hyped technology after a livestreamed demo drew mixed reviews.

Magic Leap is building a pair of smartglasses that merge computer graphics and games into the real world, and Wednesday’s livestream showed off some of the first public footage captured through the device.

“For the creator/dev community: we use video to teach a feature or capability. Any video or 2d medium (photos) is completely inadequate to actually deliver the experience of a digital lightfield on ML1,” he tweeted on Thursday.

He was likely referencing the mixed response to Thursday’s livestream from journalists and some competitors in the augmented reality field. Thursday’s livestream was geared for developers, who will need to build games and other content for the system before it’s launched to the public, but the demos were eagerly watched by enthusiasts as well.

The full session is available on YouTube, but here’s one of the demos, featuring a new rock character:

The reaction was mostly critical:

There were some defenders, though:

This is the context in which Abovitz issued a long tweetstorm in which he argued that the demo may be underwhelming because it’s hard to experience Magic Leap without actually putting the headset on.

“You could never experience TV on the radio (but you could try and explain the theory of TV to those interested)” Abovitz tweeted. “Most people just got it once they first saw TV.”

Magic Leap CEO Rony AbovitzAsa Mathat for Vox MediaMagic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz.

He also said that the company has given over 10,000 live demos to future partners and customers. Magic Leap has had many celebrities come through its Miami-area headquarters to try the headset, Business Insider previously reported, including Beyonce. Most of those people signed an NDA before they were able to try it, though.

On Wednesday, Magic Leap announced an investment from AT&T and a partnership with the telecom giant, along with an update about the availability of its smart glasses, committing to ship its hardware to some developers this summer. A price tag and ship date have yet to be announced.

The startup has raised $US2.3 billion in funding from investors, including Google, Alibaba, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment arm, valuing the company at over $US6 billion. Business Insider parent company Axel Springer is an investor, too.

Here’s the full tweetstorm:

Here’s that tweetstorm in paragraph form, lightly edited:

“For the creator/dev community: we use video to teach a feature or capability. Any video or 2d medium (photos) is completely inadequate to actually deliver the experience of a digital lightfield on ML1. We spend our time and R and D tuning our Digital Lightfield Signal to the eye-brain system, not electronic camera sensors.

Video capture can not differentiate between phone AR, VR, MR – the relevant differentiating information is lost. That said, a direct Digital Lightfield signal that allows your eye-brain system to do its thing, that is where all the magic happens. Reality has an amazing sense of presence and space – that is the result of incredibly complex interactions with the world’s analogue lightfield signal and your brain. Our work at Magic Leap has been to approximate that experience with a digital signal designed to fit into, and mimic, that interaction we all have daily.

An actual ML1 experience fundamentally needs you, does not function well without you, and was designed to unveil its technical magic with you and to you. Anyone who has already had an ML experience on a shipping grade unit already knows this. And hopefully anyone curious or interested will have the opportunity soon to try for themselves.

You could never experience TV on the radio (but you could try and explain the theory of TV to those interested). Most people just got it once they first saw TV. Same with Magic Leap.”

Watch the entire Magic Leap demo for yourself below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_8g0H4IksU?ecver=1

Know anything about Magic Leap? Email the author at [email protected]

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