Magic Leap, the mysterious HoloLens competitor that has been drawing questions and making headlines since Google invested over half a billion dollars into the company, and in the dead of night it released a brand new demo. The company appears to be straddling the line between virtual reality, augmented reality, and something it calls "visual computing," and is rumored to rely upon retinal projection to make its digital experiences more immersive and less bulky than Hololens, Galaxy Gear, or Oculus Rift.
Earlier this year, Magic Leap released thrilling concept footage for a first-person steampunk videogame where you can battle robots in your own office. Hololens demonstrated a similar game concept at a Windows 10 event two weeks ago, and now Magic Leap is firing back with another taste of its secretive product.
The video is simple: you notice a tiny cartoon robot hiding under a desk. It comes into focus, looks embarrased, and waves. Cut to a model of the solar system floating over a woman's desk. It phases in and out of focus as you glance between woman and celestial bodies. At the botom of the screen blinks a note saying, "Shot directly through Magic Leap technology on October 14, 2015. No special effects or compositing were used in these videos." They're more subtle than the earlier (simulated) robo-battles, and the holograms are a little bit shaky—perhaps due to eye-tracking?—but now we've got a glimpse at what we'll actually see when Magic Leap becomes available.
That date is as unknown as most details about the company, but it might come sooner than we think. Founder and CEO Rony Abovitz told antendees to WSJD in Laguna Beach that Magic Leap is "gearing up to build millions of things," in a repurposed Motorola factory, according to the Verge. "We're not ready to announce when we're shipping, but it gives you a signal that we're not far."
Abovitz also announced that Magic Leap has a working dev kit, and has been inviting teams to their Florida headquarters to develop apps like a game of digital catch, a projected hand, and an augmented reality instructional guide to making mac and cheese. Rio Careff, Magic Leap's chief content officer, added the bold statement, "Anything you can do on a smartphone, you can do with Magic Leap... the world is your screen."
Augmented reality has been the plaything of artists for years, as they've made GIF books, hybrid music objects, moving sculptures, a Pokémon game, and digital fashion. If Magic Leap's claim at WSJD that their design will be comfortable to wear in public—a famous shortcoming of Google Glass, and a likely challenge for HoloLens—is true, then projects like these could blast off and pave the way for a 3D computing revolution. Think 3D Excel spreadsheets, new ways to consume music, an antidote for "smartphone neck"—or an interface shift on the scale of the smartphone.
Keep up with Magic Leap developments on the comapny's website.