Here’s what it’s like to try $1.4bn startup Magic Leap

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Even though it has yet to show a physical product to the public, Magic Leap has raised over $1.4 billion from investors including Google and Alibaba to build a headset that merges the virtual world with the real one.

Magic Leap is notoriously secretive, but Wired’s Kevin Kelly was recently allowed to play around with an early prototype, and he came away from the experience with a few thoughts on the experience.

Here’s what using the Magic Leap prototype was like in Kelly’s own words:

  • “Magic Leap works, its advantage is that pixels disappear. Most screen-based, head-mounted VR displays exhibit a faint ‘screen door’ effect that comes from a visible grid of pixels. Magic Leap’s virtual images, by contrast, are smooth and incredibly realistic.”
  • “While I was wearing the photonic spectacles of Magic Leap, I watched an HD movie on a virtual movie screen. It looked as bright and crisp as my 55-inch TV at home.”
  • “I found that it worked amazingly well close up, within arm’s reach, which was not true of many of the other mixed- and virtual-reality systems I used.”
  • “I also found that the transition back to the real world while removing the Magic Leap’s optics was effortless, as comfortable as slipping off sunglasses, which I also did not experience in other systems. It felt natural.”

While it may be some time before a wider audience gets to experience Magic Leap’s product for themselves, the company released a new video called “New Morning,” showcasing what the technology is capable of. And unlike the teaser videos from other augmented reality headsets, Magic Leap filmed this video through the actual Magic Leap headset itself, so there’s no additional CGI added in after the fact.


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