Google helped raise over half a billion dollars for an unknown technology startup named Magic Leap in October of 2014 — $US542 million, to put a fine point on it.
Here’s what we know: The company, Magic Leap, is based in Florida, and is run by Rony Abovitz. (Here’s a great piece from New York Magazine breaking down his eccentricities). Abovitz used to run a medical device company, MAKO Surgical, which he co-founded. Stryker Corporation, the medical technology company, bought MAKO Surgical for $US1.65 billion in 2013.
Outside of the confines of the Magic Leap’s Florida HQ, very few people have tried what Magic Leap is making: an “eyeglasses-like device, different from Google Glass, designed to project computer-generated images over a real-life setting,” as the Wall Street Journal described it.
One journalist at the MIT Technology Review used it back in February. Beyond trying out unwieldy but functioning prototypes, she saw a non-functioning target version of the device, which she described as, “a chunky pair of sports sunglasses wired to a square pack that fits into your pocket.”
Unappealing as that sounds, what you’ll be able to do with Magic Leap’s mystery headset sounds far more impressive. When asked in a Reddit AMA, “In a world with Magic Leap, is there a need for physical screens? Laptops, smartphones or even smartwatches?” Abovitz answered simply: “No :-)”
Check out Magic Leap’s promised functionality, from visual email to terrifying tank encounters.
Have you ever dreamed of riding an elephant? How about holding a tiny, floating elephant in your hands? Beyond just static images, Magic Leap's headset aims to superimpose realistic, moving objects in your field of vision. A magical tiny elephant is just the beginning.
As you've already seen above, one amazing instance of Magic Leap's mystery headset in action is adding a massive humpback whale somewhere it would otherwise never appear. Here's to hoping it's a flying whale, as even a fake massive whale coming towards you from above would be horrifying.
Another major function of Magic Leap's headset is the ability to use it like a computer. As seen in the image here, taken from a Magic Leap patent filing, a user watches a football game on a virtual television in the distance while working on (potentially far too many) other tasks with wraparound virtual screens closer to his face. In reality, of course, none of those screens actually exist -- they're being superimposed into reality using Magic Leap's headset.
This is why company head Rony Abovitz thinks Magic Leap's headset will replace all screens, from televisions to smartphones to laptops.
Forget about visual voicemail -- this is what Gmail might look like if it were used through Magic Leap's headset. If it looks similar to Gmail on your phone, that's no surprise; the similarity is no doubt on purpose, so new users are able to pick it up quickly.RAW Embed
Magic Leap envisions a device that has a variety of smartphone-like features baked right in. Interested in watching a movie or looking through old photos or even playing a game superimposed into reality (augmented reality)? Here's what navigating that might look like:RAW Embed
Though smartphone-like in many other ways (at least in the demo video Magic Leap released), the ability to play 'augmented reality' games is a major benefit over traditional smartphone gaming. The example shown is especially impressive.RAW Embed
More than just imposing computer-generated images in the real world, Magic Leap's headset will alter actual reality too.
Magic Leap's headset isn't just about adding stuff to your world -- it's also able to alter the reality in front of you. What was once a wall is now a gaping hole occupied by an encroaching enemy tank. Like the whale before it, this might be an extreme example that would turn off the average user. Even though the mind knows it's fake, no one likes seeing their wall broken down and a tank firing shells at them.RAW Embed
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