Magic Leap is an AR company founded in 2010 in Florida by an American entrepreneur called Rony Abovitz. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that the company started to gain in recognition even beyond tech circles with a Series B funding round where they raised $542M with Google as the Lead Investor.
Why the fuss? It wasn’t to be common knowledge for a while yet. While people knew Magic Leap was working on something related to Augmented Reality, little other information went public. The company was operating in so-called ‘stealth mode’.
Over the years, more and more trickled out, such as an ‘Original Concept Video’ of what they appeared to be working on. It wasn’t until 2018, however, that their product was revealed: The Magic Leap One, an original Augmented Reality headset that was, after all the hype, to put the HoloLens to shame.
The reality was a bit sobering, disappointing in some places but promising in others. While the hype built around the secretive Magic Leap company certainly raised expectations to a level that couldn’t possibly be fulfilled, it does not only compare to the HoloLens that was released earlier in quality but outshines it in places. While the Magic Leap One is still notably larger than regular glasses, it is significantly less bulky than the HoloLens. Further, one could argue that it’s room mapping (finding and remembering locations of walls, floors and other objects) and model placing is more advanced. There is also an impressive number of input methods: Head-pose, eye gaze, gesture, voice, a hardware controller, a mobile app and a keyboard.
Promotional videos were overpromising, yes; but, for better or worse, that is almost an established fact in the software industry, especially for a sector with such heavy visual components as AR (Microsoft is also guilty of it). So while there were jokes such as that all Augmented Reality companies should sign a treaty where they agree not to show concept videos of anything they can’t currently accomplish, the only downside to the Magic Leap One was managing expectations. We, as a company developing AR software, do use and like the device and are looking forward to what Magic Leap has in store for their next release. We do believe that the next iteration of Magic Leap’s hardware will pleasantly surprise both developers and customers.