After years spent in stealth mode, Magic Leap finally revealed its augmented reality (AR) goggles in December last year, and bit by bit we're gaining a clearer picture of the headset's functionality. The company has today announced a new partnership with the NBA, which will enable sports fans to view augmented replays of on-court action in three dimensions.

Magic Leap has been teasing its AR headset since 2015, and has been pretty darn good at it. With hundreds of millions raised in funding, including an investment from Google, a lot of hype has surrounded the mysterious startup, but not a whole lot of detail.

That changed somewhat in December when the company showed off some hardware for the first time, revealing a set of goggles powered by a small unit that clips onto your waist, along with a wireless hand controller. From what we can tell, it seems Magic Leap will offer a similar AR experience to the Microsoft Hololens and ARKit on iOS, where digital graphics are interwoven with the physical world.

Magic Leap, of course, says its approach will take things further through what it calls "digital lightfield" technology. This will apparently raise the bar when it comes to AR by generating light at varying depths in a way that means our brains can process digital objects just as they would those in real-world objects, making for a more seamless, and less tiresome experience.

So what does this marketing speak mean for NBA fans looking to add new layers to their viewing experience? Users of the forthcoming NBA app for Magic Leap will be able to pull up multiple screens over the top of the action that can show graphics, stats, replays and commentary. It will also enable a virtual, life-sized Shaquille O'Neill to join you in your living room as part of the experience.

To begin with, the app will only offer replays of matches, along with highlights of teams and particular players, with bringing the technology to live NBA games remaining a work in progress. If that sort of VR technology can be pulled off, placing viewers court side as the action plays out in real-time, it would be a huge leap not just for the NBA, but sports broadcasting as a whole.

There's no timeline detailed for when that moment might come, and even the arrival of the Magic Leap headset still remains unclear. The company says it will be available some time this year, but this will likely be a beta version for developers and is unlikely to come cheap, with a consumer version still seemingly a while away.

Source: Magic Leap

View gallery - 5 images