One Small Step for Man…One Magic Leap for Mankind

So, this past week we learned that this might be happening: Magic Leap in talks to raise $1 billion dollars in funding (led by Alibaba, post money valuation at $4.5 billion).

Regardless if the chatter is true or not….for those of you not familiar with Magic Leap (the home screen animation is amazing) – start getting familiar with it. Magic Leap made headlines a year ago when a small company, named Google, led an investment round of $540+ million and Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google) joined the board.

Talk about Whale Watching

As the story goes, Magic Leap was developing a breakthrough technology that would take augmented reality to another level. No, I’m not talking about putting your phone up to see where your closest ATMs are or, catching coins, or seeing a clunky render of a schematic diagram. The expectation was that Magic Leap was to bring cinematographic quality to the reality — think Minority Report on steroids.

At the time, it was a little hard to comprehend what that meant, so Magic Leap went on to release a number of concept shots to demonstrate what they were thinking — don’t tell me these pictures don’t get your excited about the possibilities:

This is Red Dragon!
Honey…I Shrunk the Elephant

Although exciting, I thought…

“Cool, but I’m sure I could create something just as convincing with Adobe Photoshop”

A few months later, something interesting happened - a YouTube video providing more insights into the Magic Leap concept was leaked. Titled “Just Another Day at the office at Magic Leap” it demonstrates some everyday productivity activities and a first player shooter up game.

My eyes widened a bit more: it seemed usable + fun but the interaction and graphics seemed a little dull. It made me think it was still another concept and nothing really to show a proven technology in use (if it was absent of post production, I apologize to Magic Leap — taking a best guess). It was close but it didn’t hit the mark that the concepts laid.

This time I thought:

“Very cool, but I’ve seen better stuff in a Michael Bay film”

– kidding nothing is better in a Michael Bay film.

And then this past week, this happened [mic drop].

According to the disclaimer, this was filmed using the breakthrough AR technology that was promised. From the demonstration, it appears as if they hit the mark!

Now I thought:

…actually I couldn’t think, I was still blown away with what I just saw!

The current rumours have Magic Leap being built into the next iteration of Google Glass (yes its alive). I was so blown away by the demonstration that I started wondering:

1) How will it reform the consumer tech industry?

2) How will it shape the entertainment industry?

3) What does the value chain look like for a Magic Leap?

4) Will it replace the mobile interaction model? Furthermore, will it eventually replace the smartphone?

5) How will AR/VR tech fall into business model of a Facebook (with Oculus Rift), Google (with Cardboard), or Microsoft (HoloLens)?

6) Does everything in the physical world become a screen or controller for this virtual world?

7) How will this impact individuals just forming their schemas of the real world?

8) Will we get to a point where we can’t decipher the real & unreal?

9) What will a generation born into this world create for the next evolution of computing?

10) Will we forget what human interaction/feeling is?

I still think current AR solutions are a few steps behind the curve. Yes, it can come off as cool, but they’re clunky, resource intensive, and a poor interaction model on mobile. That being said, with solutions like Magic Leap coming to fruition, something tells me AR might just be getting the leap it deserves.

Thank you Magic Leap for bringing the magic back to the real world….

Hafiz Vellani is the Founder of Main Entre, a Digital Acceleration Lab and Digital Advisory Service. Previously he slugged it out at the top digital innovations firms: BNOTIONS, Pivotal Labs, and Xtreme Labs.