Augmented Reality Startup Magic Leap Is Building ‘An Operating System For Reality’

21 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Magic Leap Aims to Build Operating System for Augmented Reality.

The virtual and augmented reality markets are starting to heat up. Magic Leap, the secretive tech firm that’s backed by Google, just posted a video that gives the clearest look yet at what its augmented reality technology can do.

Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, and HTC are all in various stages of putting together consumer products that could change the way we interact with computers. Shown today at WSJDLive, the clip is a minute long and a caption says the footage was “shot directly through Magic Leap technology” last week, without any special effects or compositing.

Unlike the entirely immersive virtual reality worlds built for the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, augmented reality superimposes images and videos onto the real world. “There’s no special effects…no post-production, no editing,” Magic Leap Chief Content Officer Rio Caraeff said during the event. The company has so far been tight-lipped on the technology it’s been working on for over a year, but yesterday (Oct. 20) showed off a new demo at a Wall Street Journal conference. The short demo, which indicates it was shot using Magic Leap’s technology, shows a nervous robot and map of the solar system overlaid onto real life. And as long as you don’t try to touch, smell, or taste what you see, “it’s neurologically true,” the CEO said. “We can’t on video actually give you the experience you’ll have when you use our system,” Abovitz said of the teaser. “There actually is not a replacement for the actual experience, but this will be pretty close.” “Effectively, you experience Gimbal as a complete neurologic reality in the world with you—flying around, going behind things, [sitting] on top of tables,” Abovitz explained. “So he’s really there.” Headquartered in Florida, the start-up was born out of the idea that people should come first, and computing and technology should fit our needs.

Abovitz shed light on Magic Leap’s progress a year after an investment group led by the company formerly known as Google Inc. invested $542 million into the Dania Beach, Fla.-based startup last year. Magic Leap has publicly referred to this technology neither as virtual or augmented reality, but rather “mixed reality.” Magic Leap’s CEO Rony Abovitz and head of content Rio Caraeff gave a few more details at the WSJD conference about what the company’s system will entail, Engadget reported.”It’ll be self-contained, a complete computer,” Abovitz said, suggesting that it won’t be as awkward to wear in public as something like Google Glass proved to be. “We believe the future of computing should be natural,” he added. Back in March, Magic Leap posted a concept video, called “Just another day at the office at Magic Leap,” demonstrating how its AR can be used to surf email and play a first-person shooter game. Apparently the computer will be so revolutionary that no existing operating system would do it justice, and so Magic Leap assembled its own. “You can’t just use a stock OS,” Abovitz said. “We have to build it.” The company, which has raised over $500 million from firms including Google, recently moved into a former Motorola facility in south Florida, ostensibly to build out its consumer product.

The footage, however, was edited and produced with Weta Workshop, the special effects and props studio best known for its work on The Lord of the Rings films. But it remains to be seen exactly what that is. “We’re gearing up to ship millions of these things,” Abovitz said yesterday. “We’re not announcing when we’re shipping. While Magic Leap said the game shown in the concept video was already being played by its employees, its sleek editing and production led some gamers to question how accurately it will reflect Magic Leap’s final product. The new demo looks promising, but Magic Leap still hasn’t said when it will be available for consumers, so it will be a little while longer before we see if the company’s mixed-reality lives up to the raw footage’s promise.

Abovitz described as “part-Matrix, part-Harry Potter.” On Tuesday, Magic Leap executives displayed a video dated Oct. 14 showing how images might appear through its lenses. In one such confab, developers created a tool to teach someone how to make macaroni and cheese with a digitally projected cookbook and stove “in case you’re in college and you don’t know what you’re doing,” Mr. At the time, the deal was the fifth-largest venture-capital investment on record, giving the startup a valuation of $2 billion, people familiar with the matter had said.

Other investors in last year’s round were Qualcomm Inc., QCOM 1.02 % film-finance company Legendary Entertainment Inc., private-equity firm KKR KKR 1.12 % & Co., Paul Allen’s investment firm Vulcan Inc., and venture-capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, and Obvious Ventures.

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