Despite hearing rather a lot about Magic Leap’s augmented reality technology over the past few years, we’ve actually seen very little of it in action. It turns out there could be a very good reason for that.
A lot of hype has built up around the technology since it raised half a billion dollars in investment back in 2014 and showcased an incredible demo just last year. However, with information from several sources and a hands-on experience of their own to judge, The Information (opens in new tab) has reported that the reality of Magic Leap isn’t quite as good as we’ve been led to believe.
The demo was called “Just another day in the office at Magic Leap” and showed a game that they were apparently able to play but according to The Information no such game actually existed at this time. In fact, the entire thing was created using only special effects.
In fairness to Magic Leap, though, the video doesn’t actually state that it was recorded using the company’s technology but the video did originally state it was a game employees were playing around the office "right now".
Perhaps more concerning is The Information’s report that the company’s own fiber-optic technology it said would make its products superior to rivals isn’t working well enough to actually be used in a wearable augmented reality device, resulting in it being put to the side as a long-term research project.
The Information states that the company is currently trying to move the Magic Leap experience from its current bulky headset form into a smaller, more wearable pair of glasses.
Magic Leap’s CEO Rony Abovitz reportedly showed a prototype compact “PEQ” device, but it wasn’t turned on and he didn’t elaborate on any details so there’s no evidence that it was actually a working prototype.
However, earlier this year Wired's Kevin Kelly reported that he had in fact tried Magic Leap's prototype and described (opens in new tab) using it as being "as comfortable as slipping on a pair of sunglasses." Overall, Kelly describes a much more positive experience than the blurry images The Information reports.
Still, despite being in development for a while and receiving incredible amounts of investment, we still haven’t seen Magic Leap’s AR device, nor have we been given any indication of when it might be released other than "soon-ish" in July of this year.
According to The Information, Magic Leap may have “oversold” what its technology can actually do and former employees of the company have said that the technology described in early demonstrations won’t actually feature in the product that will be commercially released.
The best thing we currently have is a demo released in April this year which specifically states that the footage was “Shot directly through Magic Leap technology on April 8, 2016 without use of special effects or compositing.”
This footage shows an exciting combination of practical web browsing, information accessing, and fun environmental augmentation which it suggests could drastically change the way we approach our mornings.
Whether or not these features will make it into the final product when it’s released will be interesting to see.
You can see the Magic Leap footage below:
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