New Magic Leap Video Tells Us Nothing About What the Company Is Working On

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Born out of the founder’s lifetime love affair with sci-fi, surrealism, and a fortuitous road trip across the US, the story of Magic Leap’s founding reads like a beat generation novel about discovering magic in ordinary experiences. The company couches it as “the story of an art project, turned tech startup, turned global company building the future of computing.” And after Magic Leap’s latest video, we still don’t have a clear idea what that future is.

Admittedly, it’s only part one of “the whole story,” the rest of which is coming soon, writes the company on their updated website, now devoid of the founder Rony Abovitz’s rambling blog posts and the company’s feel-good ‘unicorn marketing’ that was in its place only two weeks ago. With the website’s overhaul, many expected a change in messaging, a more sober look at the supposed world-changing technology now reportedly climbing to a $6 billion valuation and rumored to start shipping dev kits in the next six months, but the latest video doesn’t exactly do that.

image courtesy Magic Leap

In a casual conversation with Abovitz set to a backdrop of employees assembling from all over the globe amidst bog standard inspirational ‘startup music’ (you know the type), he explains the origins of the company, taking it back to a road trip to Austin where Abovitz’s band was playing at SXSW—sometime around 2010 or 2011.

“Computers were always this thing that you had to do inside the computer, so it’s one of those notions that when you grow up [you say to yourself], “wouldn’t it be cool if you could have computing spill outside the computer, almost like an art project,” says Abovitz. “I think Magic Leap really did start out as an art project first, and then it turned out like, maybe there’s some science behind this that we could turn into something real, and it turned out there was.”

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“[The history of the company] is very wild, because it’s an idea that started out in my little garage. I have a garage studio, and there’s a little thing painted that says ‘Magic Leap Studios’, it was hand-painted on it. And that was the pretty humble origin.”

It’s a bit of a stretch to call the origins of Magic Leap “humble,” as prior to its founding, Abovitz sold his Florida-based medical device company MAKO Surgical Corp. to Stryker for $1.65 billion, but as one of the most well-funded startups in history that still hasn’t shown a prototype outside of the confines of NDA, everything is relative.

The degree of rosiness retroactively applied to it origin story notwithstanding, it’s hard to say if we should be expecting something substantive in the next installment of the company’s history, or more of the same. Frankly, it would be nicer to see a the headset’s unique capabilities like in the video below than another belabored ego stroke.

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  • It’s getting annoying now.

    • dk

      ML ….bugging people since 2011

  • Lucidfeuer

    I learned great things with Vaporleap, like the fact that you can always get aways with tech tax washing billions of investments and nobody will notice as always.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Yep – that is the hard truth!

      • sfmike

        It’s part of the American way.

      • yag

        aw geez

        • Get Schwifty!

          lol

  • Jon

    A small part of me loves the consistant vagueness… as soon as (*if) they release a product it will suddenly come down to specs, road maps, app support, etc.. etc.. ya de ya de ya…

    Right now, I like the fact that just maybe… (ever so slightly maybe) it’s going to be frickin awesome…

    The idea of lightfield tech being utilsed in a super slim, affordable head set would be amazing… if that is at all what this is…

    • Walextheone

      I hope it will be an affordable heatset and not just some expensive gimmick for companies and “professionals”.

    • Sizz

      It’s interactive 3D holographic projection. The issue with VR, and why Nintedo doesn’t invest is that VR is not recommended for children. It’s also isolating, which limits mass adoption and peer inclusion. The game changer is interective projection. That’s my guess. You’ll be seeing princesses and dragons on Wal-Mart holiday displays…next year.

  • impurekind

    “New Magic Leap Video Tells Us Nothing About What the Company Is Working On”

    So, same old then.

  • Kevin Williams

    We have entered the most dangerous part of the ML bandwagon – the “do you believe” section, where the company tries to spin an image of the operation that is mystical and reverential (borrowing heavily directly from Apple’s “believe!” ad campaign).

    It is the most dangerous part of their game – having the audience buy in to the team and methodology in order to be able to manage the expectations when the product is seen. Hoping to get people following you, so you can say when they see it “…oh this version is just part of the dream we hope to deliver you… eventually”!

    December 2017 – the line in the sand that they know they have to deliver, or face such a backlash that they will be forced (at best) to strip the whole management team – or (at worst) fold the operation — no slick video will change that fact!

    • Lucidfeuer

      I don’t think this is the big picture here. You’re assuming that they do have a real product, and it was their objective from the beginning. None of their PR, market and investment operations seems to suggest there ever was something other than tech tax money washing.

      And wether they actually deliver a product in december in 2017 is not a topic, since they could, they might, but the fact that given the obligatory limitations of current research and technology, it will be an underwhelming AR glasses as is the case with all similar product. NOBODY, none of my colleague, wealthy brand I work with or even engineer friends have or use AR glasses, even those granted a pair by their companies for “tech investment and innovation” justifications.

      And this is the real problem with these “sustainship” videos: the more they do them, the higher the expectations are, which means from higher they will fall when they actually release a product when people realise that it’s not a rel, practical, usable product like any other AR glasses, but again was it ever the point of Magic Leap?

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    SO MUCH SELF GENERATED HYPE, Like a friend walking around claiming to have the hottest girlfriend ever, but you can’t see her because she lives in another town, and he’s been saying that for years.

  • Facts

    Funny if it turn out to be a gimmick like hololens bulky and tiny fov. Or like google glasses just complete shit.

    • Michael

      Then why is there billions in investments made into the company? Were they hoping Apple bought them or something of the sorts?

      • Kevin Williams

        That is an excellent point – I do think the core investment wanted that “Facebook” situation as was seen with Oculus; but now they see that none of the core groups are interested in buying them out, there is that internal panic setting in – but hey, if they launch the DK’s and the ground swell is positive, they may get acquired…. maybe!

        • user

          lol

    • dk

      the hololens is an excellent dev kit …..u r basically calling the rift dk2 a gimmick
      ….and google glass is nothing more than just a smart watch for your face ….has absolutely nothing to do with ar except for being on your face…… and there have been a gazillion similar things to that one before the google glass

    • Just having something on the market, even a potato, would be a nice evolution for Magic Leap.

  • David Herrington

    “New Magic Leap Video Tells Us Nothing About What the Company Is Working On”
    In other news, “Rain creates wet roads.”

    • Michael

      I mean I’m excited for Magic Leap and it is frustrating to have to be forced to wait non-stop with teaser after teaser. But I gotta admit, this is making me laugh.

    • care package

      Nice attempt at being clever there. Not even an accurate comparison.

  • Mike Kleinsteuber

    It never set out to describe what the company was working on, so why the unnecessary negative headline ?
    You’re gonna have to wait till the December reveal….be patient….

    • psuedonymous

      People have “been patient” for several years now, and in terms of unique technology Magic Leap have shown precisely Dick. The only videos they have shown that even claim to have been shot through actual hardware turned out to be showing images equivalent to that of CoTS parts (a 40° FoV for the imaging area).

  • Get Schwifty!

    I expect to the C-Level executives at ML to show up on American Greed one day ;)

  • Who_GAF

    Magic Leap does not owe anybody anything. I am always amused when all these tech bloggers try to bash a company for how they may or may not be handling the development of some unknown product. The consumer does exactly that, consume (or not) whatever product a company puts out. The consumer does not get to dictate what that product is, how it is developed, or what information the company shares about whatever it is they are working on. The consumer can simply wait and decide if they want to buy whatever it is the supplier is making.

    • Surykaty

      This is not about “owing” anyone anything. It’s about annoying people to no end. They could have gathered all that investor money without the retarded “magic” marketing that has been leaking out of their dumb mouths every 6 months. Get it? Everybody would be totally OK with them being quiet and secretive – but nooo.. they have to go to conferences to talk about stupid shit in a very annoying way. People are not annoyed by the fact that the product is not here – they are annoyed because they are insanely annoying with their marketing and PR.

    • mrtexasfreedom

      Well, as they vacuum up hundreds of millions of dollars in VC money, these are resources that could have gone to other projects with a viable product that we as consumers may have enjoyed. Additionally, as this mess comes crashing down in spectacular fashion, the investment community as a whole jots down in their note book to avoid AR / VR projects. Again, suppressing the industry’s growth.

  • This company is pretty darn good at showing people what vaporware looks like.

  • Nice offices in the video. If you do a Blade Runner style freeze and zoom on various screens with programmers/artists you can see the perhaps proprietary plugins they are using to create content.

  • Scott

    If you do some research, you will find that the technology ML are trying to create from scratch is incredibly hard to achieve regarding creating digital dynamic lightfields. A patent was filed by ML a few years ago for it. And yet, most people expect technology like this to be created in a small amount of time. Take a look at the filed patent: https://www.google.com/patents/US20140071539

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    I look forward to what they will show off (later this year, 2018, 19, 20, or when ever it comes out). But in the mean time, I’m getting the Samsung/Microsoft HMD, I’m not going to sit around playing the waiting game forever.

  • Prediction: 1 day after the dev kits are released Magic Leap’s “assumed company value” will plummet HARD. $6 Billion? Try $6.

  • ADDGen

    Seems to be a lot of negative opinions towards ML based on these comments, and above article. I for one will form my opinion once ML one or whatever they choose to call it is released. I mean it’s not like they have released a target date or promised a timeline. You guys still think this Vaporware why? Because you don’t see a product before it’s finished …..I think Oculus spoiled you guys.

  • guest

    This Tells Us WORSE THAN Nothing!