Google Invests in Mysterious Augmented Reality Startup Magic Leap, Challenges Oculus and Facebook

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Drones, 3D printing and augmented/virtual reality are one of the my favorite subjects here on Fossbytes because I think they are the know-hows which will rule different spheres of our future technology assisted world. Today, I’m writing something more on augmented/virtual reality- the future of gaming and entertainment industry.

What is the news?

Google has invested a whooping sum of $542 million on a mysterious and lesser known startup called Magic Leap. Magic Leap is based in Dania Beach, Florida. Magic Leap is said to be working in the field of augmented reality. This is one of the biggest investment ever made by Google.

It should be noticed that Facebook bought the augmented/virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion just seven months ago.

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Oculus Rift Development Kit

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In simple words:

Augmented reality refers to creation of a virtual world for the user using different ways of blending the reality with the virtual world.

What is Magic Leap?

Magic Leap is a mysterious company founded in 2011. The website of the company says that the company is all about the ideas:

It’s an idea based in the belief that people should not have to choose between technology or safety, technology or privacy, the virtual world or the real world.

The website of the company is full of images of elephants, whales, submarines- all superimposed over real-life scenes. Oculus Rift takes the viewer inside the virtual reality world through its headset(2D imaging), on the other hand Magic Leap combines our real world with the 3D images.

Little is known about Magic Leap’s actual product, but founder and CEO of the company Rony Abovitz said in February that his company aims at “developing and commercializing the most natural and human-friendly wearable computing interface in the world.”

According to an article in New York Times, Magic Leap has developed a digital lightfield technology which mimics the biological process going on inside our brain to help it make sense of the image in front of it. Magic Leap says that its device will project “light sculptures” or 3D projects on a user’s retina.

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Abovitz told Techcruch that Magic Leap will be launching a product for users “relatively soon.” This sounds like product development is going on because there is no target date mentioned by the company.

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Who are other investors?

While the major details of the deal were not made public, it was reported that some other biggies from the industry were a part of it. The other major investors who showed interest in Magic Leap include Qualcomm Inc., the world’s No.1 mobile phone chipmaker, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, KKR and Legendary Entertainment.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, Android and Apps at Google, will be a part of Magic Leap’s board. Apart from MR. Pichai, Paul Jacobs, executive chairman of Qualcomm, will join the board as an observer.

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The involvement of Legendary Entertainment, the makers of blockbusters like The Dark Knight Trilogy and Godzilla, is worth noticing. Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Pictures, told the Journal-

“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,”

What could be intentions of Google?

“We are looking forward to Magic Leap’s next stage of growth, and to seeing how it will shape the future of visual computing,” Sundar Pichai said in a statement. Magic Leap and Google, both have declined to comment further on the future prospects of this relationship. This technology may seem like a sister to Google Glass and a future integration looks inevitable, but Journal discourages such theories.

Just seven months ago, Facebook bought Oculus, the biggest player in Virtual Reality for $2 billion. So, it’s obvious that this investment in Magic Leap is Google’s way to battle Facebook in the arena of virtual reality and maybe exploring the horizons of virtual computing.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in comments.


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