Secretive Startup Magic Leap Unveils Its First Product


After almost four years of developing their mixed reality tech in secret, or as they called it, ‘stealth mode,’ and raising a total of $2.3 billion dollars in investment, Magic Leap has finally released its first product. It has been a long, cash-laiden road, with some IT publications insisting that the entire company is a vaporware scam that will succeed only in raising obscene amounts of money and producing flashy demo videos, and others claiming it will herald a new age in which our physical and digital worlds will merge together.


The truth, it seems, is somewhere in the middle. While it’s first product, The Magic Leap One, won’t turn the AR world on its head, it does establish itself as a solid, perhaps even dominant mixed reality contender. The headset, coming in at $2,295 offers persuasive, visually powerful holograms that seem more impressive to most than those of Magic Leap’s most direct competition: namely the Microsoft Hololens.


While still suffering from some of the flaws present in all AR headsets currently: limited field of vision, occasional blurriness in some visual assets, and a stark lack of sophistication in its software applications, the Magic Leap One does seem to showcase a possible evolution in the future of UI. Geared mainly towards developers, artists, and designers, the headset does highlight some of the benefits of using an AR interface to accomplish tasks typically done on a traditional computer.


Indeed, this was the company’s goal. CEO Rony Abovitz likened it to his experience of the first macintosh computer. “It didn’t have full color. It didn’t have all the stuff. But, the whole world just opened up for me.” he says, “It’s got all these infinite possibilities.” When viewed through the lense of the platform it provides AR developers, and what experiences it could offer in the future, given further advancement of AR software apps, the headset does seem an impressive achievement.


Magic Leap plans to use its funding to stay afloat while AR software development, and social norms cath up to the possibilities its headset offers. We don’t know how long that will take. And in the meantime, the Magic Leap One is sure to leave many mixed reality enthusiasts disappointed in its capabilities, but the headset could well provide a gateway to the advancement of a future AR world, and that is no small task.


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