Remember Magic Leap, the Florida-based augmented reality company that Google led a $US500 million round of fundraising for? The one that Google tech boss Sundar Pinchai sits on the board of? If none of that rings a bell, perhaps this incredibly impressive video will:
Pretty neat, right? That’s the first taste of what Magic Leap can do. The company hasn’t revealed much of anything; that video was only released in place of a planned appearance at TED earlier this year, and it was apparently more than a few months old at that point. Beyond a single case of a journalist trying the company’s technology, no one outside of the company has been allowed to see or write about it.
We’ve asked. Many times.
All we really know for sure so far is that Magic Leap has what is supposedly a mind-blowing new kind of technology that takes augmented reality to the next level. Augmented reality (AR) means overlaying digital images on top of the real world. Magic Leap calls its take on AR “cinematic reality” because it’s supposed to be incredibly realistic.
Thankfully, Magic Leap is an American company that wants to protect its creations. As such, a recently published patent application for “Virtual and Augment Reality System and Methods” from Magic Leap offers some additional details about how the clandestine company’s headset will function. Oh, and there are some drawings too.
This is our first look at Magic Leap’s futuristic headset, care of the United States Patent and Trademark Office:
Not such a looker, right? That’s because it’s just a patent application drawing. It’s not necessarily representative of a final product. It might not look anything like the final product. But it does give an indication of how the final product will work: a sunglass-like structure with headphones built in, and a wire feeding from the back of the headset to a “remote processing module,” which is some form of computer that will enable the headset to function.
This is particularly interesting given the history of wearable hardware (think: Google Glass). If it’s hard to sell the average consumer on wearing a computer on their face, just think about how hard it might be to sell a face computer that’s tethered to a computer in your pocket. It sounds downright obtrusive.
According to the patent application, Magic Leap doesn’t see the image as demonstrative of the final product, but simply as a means to, “illustrate one or more embodiments of various internal processing components of the wearable AR device.” Put more simply: the final product will need some form of processing, and this is one potential solution.
How it actually ends up is the big question, but it looks like we’ll need good, old-fashioned processing power to achieve the “magic” that Magic Leaps wants to create. Hopefully it’s not in our back pocket.
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