Now that consumer virtual reality is here, with the arrival of the leading HTC Vive and runner-up Oculus Rift, Magic Leap is here to remind us that there's yet another next big thing waiting in the wings. Many believe that augmented reality will eventually replace the smartphone – using eye-worn gear to (appear to) place apps and games inside the real world around us, rather than on the screen of a handheld device or inside an isolated virtual world. Secretive startup Magic Leap launched a new video today to remind us that it's cooking up that very future.
While Microsoft has been eager to associate its name with AR right out of the gates, showing off its Hololens AR kit at various convention demos, Magic Leap has been doing something similar in a more secretive way, creating buzz and raising beaucoup bucks without giving the public or press any glimpses or major details of the device itself.
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We do occasionally get to see first-person Magic Leap videos shot using real footage, though, and we got another one of those today.
Magic Leap says the new teaser video (embedded at the bottom of this article) has "no special effects or compositing," supposedly giving us an accurate glimpse of what today's version of the product is like to wear. The vid illustrates how AR could eventually replace not just the smartphone, but all screens in our lives – including laptops and TVs. It liberates our content from the confines of four-corner rectangular displays, integrating our apps, games and social experiences into real-world environments.
So we see things like spreadsheets floating in vertical windows over the desk in front of you, popping up your daughter's text message next to your desk lamp over to the left, and then opening the project she sent you on the horizontal surface of the desk. Oh, and don't forget to order those new shoes over on the right-hand side of your desk. Cool stuff.
Magic Leap did showcase the product to the press for (presumably) the first time in a Wired feature that dropped today. Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz tells the magazine that his company's tech uses different visual tech ("three-dimensional, wafer-like component that has very small structures in it" that simulates the way your eyes naturally receive light) from Hololens, eliminating the screen door effect (visible pixels as you move your head around) that's common in VR and other AR projects.
Nobody knows exactly when this kind of stuff will become part of our lives, any more than we knew how soon VR would arrive before the last few years. Microsoft is already shipping Hololens kits to developers, though, and Magic Leap has been working on its AR gear for at least a few years. And don't be surprised if VR companies like Oculus/Facebook are also planning on making the (relatively short) leap into AR.
Enjoy your futuristic VR for now; futuristic AR may be upstaging it before long.
You can check out Magic Leap's latest video below.
Company page: Magic Leap