One group of individuals has embarked on a grand adventure, to add a new layer of interaction with the world and people around us. Magic Leap is a Florida-based start-up company founded by Rony Abovitz, striving to create “the future platform for everyone, one of context, presence, intelligence, and experience.” Essentially, releasing our shackles from the everyday devices( smartphones, laptops, televisions, etc.), that constantly demands our attention.
It is funny to think that just barely a decade ago, smartphones was the next best thing. It was the super-compact mobile computer, giving us a novel way to connect with the environment, that the limited flip-phone could not achieve. Now in 2016, most will have a panic attack if their smartphone is not right beside them, at all times.
With that said, our reliance on these mobile machines has created a new, possibly unexpected problem. In order to post updates to our twitter page, or send a quick message to a friend, we must relinquish our attention from the real world and stare into touchscreen, until the task is done. I remember it being a big deal, for someone to be peering down in their smartphone, dismissing the people around them. Especially if the other person was giving their direct attention to the smartphone abuser.
This is the great benefit of Augmented Reality. It has the potential to seamlessly integrate our physical world with the digital world that consumes us today. In order for Magic Leap to accomplish this, they’ve designed the Mixed Reality Lightfield. As best said by Neal Stephenson, Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist, the Mixed Reality Lightfield produces ” a synthesized light field that falls upon the retina in the same way as light reflected from real objects in your environment. Depth perception, in this system, isn’t just a trick played on the brain by showing it two slightly different images.”
They have made heavy investments in photonics. The generation and manipulation of light particles. Rony Abovitz stresses “that’s fundamentally important for us to deliver the experience that’s the natural fit of how the eye-brain system works.” Ultimately, making digital reality indistinguishable from physical reality, and creating a advanced structure of contextual computing.
They understand that in order for people to enjoy mixed reality, it must feel natural. This has peeked the interest and investments of other companies. It initially received over $540 million in venture funding from Qualcomm, Kleiner Perkins, Google and other investors. Magic Leap continued to raise $827 million in Series C funding in 2015 and $800 million in 2016, valuing the startup at $4.5 billion. That’s pretty impressive, just like the augmented reality hardware they have been developing.
The amazing team at Magic Leap have been on the grind, “working really hard on everything from photonics and optics, to hardware, user interface design, content creation, software, electronics, audio, and much, much more.” The dedicated wizards behind the startup consist of Rachna Bhasin (Chief Business Officer), Brian Wallace (Chief Marketing Officer), Rony Abovitz (Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer), Scott Henry (Chief Financial Officer), Dr. Brian Schowengerdt (Co-Founder, Chief Science/Experience Officer), Paul Greco (Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering/Programs), Graeme Devine (Chief Game Wizard), Yannick Pellet (Senior Vice President of Software Engineering), Rio Caraeff (Chief Content Officer), Laura Langehaug (Vice President & Human Resources) Gary Shigeru Natsume (Vice President of Design and UI), Mark Albert (General Counsel), Neal Stephenson (Chief Futurist), Henk Vlietstra (Senior Vice President and XO), Dr, Gary Bradski (Vice President of Advanced Perception & Intelligence), David Lundmark (Chief Patent Counsel). Whoa, hope I didn’t leave anyone out.
If you are a developer, you can get in touch with them about potential applications and programs that Magic Leap can facilitate. They have not announced a release date as of yet, but when they finally release their consumer version to market, you can bet that it will be a major competitor in the augmented reality industry.