News

POV: Magic Leap Is Here

Background:

Earlier this year, Florida-based tech start-up Magic Leap raised $461m in second round funding, taking its combined funding to date to $2.3bn…all without releasing a product. Now, after years of rumours and speculation, the mixed reality headset Magic Leap One is finally here and being shipped across the United States.

Details and Implications:

Magic Leap is a mixed reality developer platform and headset (the Magic Leap One) that integrates digital content within a user’s physical world. This week, Magic Leap held its first developer conference to announce the launch of its first product. With a price of $2,295 each (financing options start with instalments at $96 a month), the headset does not come cheap, though people say it is one of the better standalone AR/MR headsets right now.

Here’s what you get for your money:

Multi-user Chat Experiences: Avatar Chat is a social AR chat app that promotes multi-user experiences and allows users to connect with others via a customisable Avatar.

Non-Gaming Consumers: Magic Leap teased a variety of games and projects that allow for recreational use at its conference, including an experience that allows you to grow a holographic creature on a surface. It’s also appealing to non-gamers with a partnership with Brainlabs, a medical tech company, that ‘enables access to advanced, less-invasive patient treatments’ and Wayfair, one of the world’s largest furniture and homeware e-commerce destinations. Wayfair is launching Wayfair Spaces, where consumers can design their homes at scale via the mixed reality headset.

Gaming: Obviously a core component of any mixed reality offering, Magic Leap launches with partnerships with brands like the NBA and Star Wars.

Live Streaming Apps: AT&T has already struck a deal with Magic Leap to bring a mobile 5G network to its Florida campus next year. This will allow developers to test out apps on a fast network and enables AT&T to be the exclusive carrier for US owners of the headset. In addition, AT&T will be launching its DirectTV Now app for the Magic Leap headset, allowing users to watch up to four live streams at once.

Summary:

With a price tag of a few thousand dollars it will be interesting to see how the Magic Leap One competes with other headsets already in the market that are more affordable – one would assume it would only be for those die-hard tech lovers to begin with. However, the headset promises a shift away from a focus on gaming and the arrival of more educational, utility and experiential content and services. This move into a wider world of mixed reality experiences should be friendlier for advertisers looking to develop experiences for their audience, so many brands will be watching this new tech closely.

Further Reading:

TechCrunch / Verge / CNET / Variety / Road to VR