Geo Week News

December 9, 2016

Magic Leap’s Mixed-Reality Revolution Could be Pure Hype


Magic Leap’s mixed reality solution has been breathlessly anticipated for years. The company long promised that their glasses would be smaller and far superior to similar solutions, including Microsoft’s HoloLens. These claims—and some impressive demo videos—have helped the company land enthusiastic features from leading industry publications and funding of $1.4 billion on a valuation of $4.5 billion.

Tellingly, however, very few journalists were granted access to test the technology. A new in-depth report from The Information explains why: Magic Leap’s MR glasses won’t be ready for years, they are currently inferior to Microsoft’s HoloLens, and they may not actually use the “revolutionary” AR technology the company built its brand on.

Though the subscription-only tech news website has hidden the damning report behind their paywall, The Verge has published a helpful summary of the high points.

Magic Leap has produced a number of videos to demonstrate their technology. The report reveals that at least one of those videos—which claimed to demonstrate a game commonly played in the Magic Leap office—was created entirely by a visual effects studio.

Even worse news for Magic Leap: The Information got their hands on a sample device, and said that it is currently a big helmet with a lot of cables running to a desktop computer. This is a far cry from the minimalist glasses the company has promised.

Magic Leap is having trouble with their breakthrough tech, the “fiber scanning display.” This technology was meant to miniaturize the mixed-reality technology, but has presented so many challenges that the company has sidelined it to a research project status.

The Information report also includes an interview with Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz, who says that the company’s solution now uses technology comparable to Microsoft’s HoloLens. Only one of these technologies is currently available.

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