Oct 22, 2014 06:11 PM EDT
Google and other investors have decided to pump $542 million into a formerly little-known startup called Magic Leap which seems to specialize in a yet-to-be-seen form of augmented reality. Magic Leap's descriptions posted on their website are vague at best and border on cryptic, but the company is working on glasses that would provide wearers with an experience that is supposed to make virtual objects appear as if they were actually within the wearer's immediate environment. How this will differ from traditional augmented reality isn't clear. It might just be the hardware. We'll have to wait and see.
Google exec Sundar Pichai will be joining the Magic Leap board of directors and so will Google VP of corporate development Don Harrison. Based on early reports, Magic Leap's hardware will actually project images onto (or into) the wearer's eyes themselves, which is supposed to be key to making this experience unique.
One of those who've actually seen the technology in operation is Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, who stated: "It was incredibly natural and almost jarring - you're in the room, and there's a dragon flying around, it's jaw-dropping and I couldn't get the smile off of my face." Legendary is another company taking part in this investment round along with Google, Qualcomm, Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and others.
Those in the entertainment industry see Magic Leap as a way of augmenting or even revolutionizing the film and gaming experience as we know it by providing a different level of fully-emersive interaction. General computing could also benefit from such an experience, with programmers, writers and artists being able to take advantage of monitor-less computing.
Magic Leap is headquartered in Florida and has more than 100 employees, currently. The company was founded in 2011 by Rony Abovitz, a man whose previous start up already sold for a reported 1.65 billion in 2013. Abovitz says he dislikes the term augmented reality and eschews it for 'cinematic reality.'
"Those are old terms - virtual reality, augmented reality. They have legacy behind them," Abovitz explains. "They are associated with things that didn't necessarily deliver on a promise or live up to expectations. We have the term cinematic reality because we are disassociated with those things."
Whether or not cinematic reality can deliver on its own promise remains to be seen. But Abovitz is confident Magic Leap is equal to the task.
"When you see this, you will see that this is computing for the next 30 or 40 years. To go farther and deeper than we're going, you would be changing what it means to be human."
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