Following a bout of skeptical press, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz claims the company is already doing production test runs of their first AR “system,” which is said to be “small, sleek, cool.”
Following an oddly scathing headline from The Verge, based on a report by The Information, Magic Leap’s peculiar CEO, Rony Abovitz, published a stream-of-consciousness Tweetstorm rebuking the skepticism of the “grumpy mouse tech blogger writers.”
Magic Leap has raised a staggering $1.4 billion from some of the world’s biggest companies and well known venture firms, reportedly leading to a $4.5 billion valuation. Little is known about the augmented reality tech that the company is building, or precisely what makes it worth so much in the eyes of investors. So far it seems the company intends to build a pair of AR glasses with a novel display that’s said to create more realistic visuals than other AR headsets seen thus far.
According to The Verge, in an interview with The Information, Abovitz says that the company has been unable to miniaturize and scale a key technology: a fiber scanning display. It’s further stated by the reports that Magic Leap’s product is technologically and developmentally far behind Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, which is already available on the market.
Cue a Tweetstorm of Abovitz’ characteristically ambiguous tweets, featuring instant classics such as, “‘He buys two bars, and after unwrapping the second chocolate bar, Charlie finds the fifth golden ticket’,” and, “Stay tuned – what’s coming next for Magic Leap is the best part.” Along with the word “Believe,” a smiley emoticon, and a photo of questionable effort featuring a billboard with a train and the words, “Magic Leap Is Coming.”
“For our launch: everyone – skeptics and friends alike – will be able to try Magic Leap for themselves,” he tweeted. “Ice-cream included :-).”
Among the innocuous tweets was wedged something tangible:
In our factory now: we are making mini-production test runs of our first system: small, sleek, cool
— Rony Abovitz (@rabovitz) December 9, 2016
It’s still not clear exactly what the “system” is. The descriptors, “small, sleek, cool,” suggest what many have suspected is a B2C product coming from Magic Leap in the form of a pair of AR glasses, but the company could also be creating displays or other components not meant for end-users that will be integrated into other products.
Whatever it is, production test runs is a good sign that the company is well on the way to manufacturing a product, possibly launching in 2017.
Update (2:56PM PT, 12/9/16): Prompted by recent reports, in the first post to the company’s blog since February 2016, Abovitz offered a brief update with some additional details on the status of the company’s work:
• We have completed our first PEQ (Product Equivalent) build of our target form factor, in our new facility.
• We are about to start a much bigger PEQ run, which will exercise our supply chain and manufacturing/quality operations.
• The units we are building now are for engineering and manufacturing verification/validation testing, early reliability/quality testing, production line speed, and a bunch of other important parameters.
• There is also a lot more going in our development of software, applications, cool creative experiences and overall operational readiness.
Original article continues below.
Despite the recent skeptical coverage, those who have had a chance to see Magic Leap’s tech continue to rave about what they saw (without being able to tell us anything about what is was). Benedict Evans, a Partner of the respected VR firm Andreessen Horowitz (which is one of Magic Leap’s investors), this week compared his experience with the product to the iPhone.
Magic Leap is one of only a handful of genuine 'holy shit I can't believe I'm seeing this' moments I've had as an adult. Previous was iPhone
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) December 9, 2016
Tons of similar tweets over the last year have lavished the same ‘mind blown’ praise on what Magic Leap has been showing, but after the report from The Information, whether or not the final product will be equivalent to the demo tech remains unclear.
Whatever the case, it seems as if the company plans to wait to begin its formal product marketing before it will detail exactly what it’s making.