Everyone’s talking about virtual reality, but the innovation that could really change daily life is mixed reality, says Magic Leap, the secretive Florida tech company that has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding without showing a single piece of hardware.
Magic Leap is sometimes talked about like it's a religion. Everyone who has been to Florida to experience the demo has come away a convert. Among those acolytes are Lucasfilm and ILMxLab. Magic Leap and Lucasfilm now have a partnership to create a Magic Leap annex in San Francisco, the companies said Thursday at the Wired Business Conference in New York.
A short “Star Wars” demo featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO was revealed during the presentation. Shot using a digital camera from within the Magic Leap hardware, the clip follows the droids around an office. R2-D2 and C-3PO interact with the objects around the room, with the former having to go around a table featuring a hologram of a battle that’s unfolding outside.
The Magic Leap and Lucasfilm partnership involves collaboration and a San Francisco outpost for Magic Leap. Working in Lucasfilm’s studios with ILMxLAB, which is exploring immersive ways to tell “Star Wars” stories, Magic Leap could bring the beloved characters into the real world on a daily basis.
Imagine on “Star Wars” Day a world in which TIE Fighters and Stormtroopers invade your streets. You and your friends can join up to defeat the forces or engage in other ways with this unique event using Magic Leap. That’s part of the story Rony Abovitz, founder and CEO of Magic Leap, wants to tell.
Mixed reality goes beyond VR and augmented reality with the ability to interact with the experience. In the case of “Star Wars,” C-3PO could be your personal butler and translator with his mastery of thousands of languages. More practically, Magic Leap could pull out a personal assistant that outlines your day, confirms or cancels plans along with giving you some suggestions about what you should do based on past choices. Calling up your mother will bring her into your physical space, said Abovitz in describing one potential use case for the mysterious device.
Abovitz described the technology as a digital light field that interacts with the best display ever built, which just so happens to be your brain. The light field mimics the same signal your brain uses to process visuals. The Magic Leap light field combines with the visual signal with the digital to the point where your brain believes what you are seeing, according to Abovitz who described it as a “neurological truth.” The Magic Leap technology combines a CPU, GPU, real-time sensors and cloud computing to create a daily computing experience.
Magic Leap remains shrouded in mystery, but Abovitz did reveal some details about the technology. Magic Leap is building a SpaceX-style factory to produce its photonics, the science of light transmission, manipulation and generation. The first Magic Leap devices will be produced in the summer, which will serve as what Abovitz called “pilots” to the first production units. A final product could happen in the near future.