Presto! Magic Leap Conjures Up Augmented Reality's Future
You've heard the buzzwords before - "virtual reality" and "augmented reality" have been tossed around for a few years now, usually by somebody talking about future technologies that can bring longtime science fiction scenarios to life. (VR creates entire digital scenarios for you to jump inside of and engage with, while AR is all about blending the real and the imagined. )
And yet here you are, still waiting for an affordable, comfortable pair of VR goggles, along with plenty of fun gaming content to go with them. (Never mind Google Glass; Google has put the brakes on those for a while as it studies not only the tech-based drawbacks, but the societal backlash surrounding surveillance.)
If that describes you, then I encourage you to view the just-released Magic Leap video below. It comes closer to visualizing the promise of augmented reality than anything else I've seen - or had the pleasure of trying during demonstrations offered by VR and AR-based startup companies in recent years.
The video provides a user point-of-view as you walk into an office and immediately touch floating icons representing a YouTube page and a Gmail account. This hints at augmented reality's potential for workplace use, but then things really get interesting as the user in the video clicks on the "Games" icon from a roulette wheel of options. He picks up a real toy gun, and then begins blasting unreal killer robots that drop from the ceiling and smash through walls.
It obviously ranks high on the CQ (Coolness Quotient) scale, largely because it does a good job of realizing the 3D visuals that pop up in augmented reality scenarios (at least, it does a good job given that we're watching it all in a YouTube video). Yet it's also witty and well-produced. In the description accompanying the video, the company said it was hoping to present the technology at this week's TED2015 conference in Vancouver but couldn't make it. "This is a game we’re playing around the office right now (no robots were harmed in the making of this video)," the note said.
Some caveats: You'll notice the Weta Workshop logo in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Weta has given us stellar, Oscar-winning movie special effects including the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" trilogies, and its co-founder sits on the Magic Leap board, so that's more brainpower than is usually available from your average startup. Also, Google gave the Florida-based Magic Leap more than $500 million last year to help realize its AR dreams.
Given that investment, and Facebook's $2 billion purchase of virtual reality startup Oculus in early 2014, then you'd be forgiven in thinking that some of this outrageous seed money should start bearing fruit soon. That might be the case with Magic Leap, although the company isn't saying much more about the "Dr. Grordbort Presents Victory" robot-blasting game shown in its latest video. But the big E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) videogame convention is coming up in June. Maybe Magic Leap will pull this rabbit completely out of its hat by then, giving us all a better look at the future of virtual/augmented reality.