Magic Leap - The Future of Augmented Reality

The future of augmented reality really is here, and it’s brought to you not by tech giants Google, Microsoft, or Apple, nor by any well-established company with a firm grounding in the field, but instead by a small startup called Magic Leap. (You should really check out that link after the article - even the homepage makes you giddy).

Before we dive head first into the workings of Magic Leap, I’ll give a little background on the topic that has propelled wearable tech in recent years. Coined in the 1990s, AR describes a live view of  a real-world environment whose elements are enhanced by superimposing computer-generated input such as sound, graphics, video, and GPS data. The technology allows a user to manipulate these visualized objects to perform tasks that would have previously required external hardware, all with little-to-no visual impairment.

Initial developments in AR had been primarily focused to provide a single, robust solution to a finite problem. One of the first commercial uses of AR came about as a way of increasing productivity at Boeing, in 1990. Assembly workers would be provided headsets that would display real-time graphics of where to place wires on the 777 aircraft, to save them looking back and forth at abstract diagrams in their manuals. A couple of years later, Steven Feiner, Blair MacIntyre, and Doree Seligmann, all now current leaders in the field, submitted a paper on a prototype printer maintenance system called KARMA. The paper was highly regarded, and is still referenced to this day.

However, as helpful as these headsets were back then to many industries, today, we see the bigger picture. Spurred by the developments in mobile computing and graphics processing, we are no longer asking “What can we do with the tools we have?” but instead, “Actually, what can’t we do?” This is the question that Magic Leap are endeavoring to answer. Check out this promotional video by the team.

You can say it. It’s awesome. According to Magic Leap, the game shown is currently being played by their employees, but the sleek editing and production of the video left many viewers feeling skeptical. And it turns out they had a good reason to be. Eagle-eyed viewers here may have noticed a logo appear at the end of the video for Weta Workshops - a special effects company based in New Zealand who have worked in conjunction with Magic Leap in creating their tech. So, when that video was released, no one really knew just how far the truth was being stretched. However, recently, Magic Leap decided it was best to show the world unedited, raw footage of the headset being used in an office environment.

Perhaps it was to quieten the non-believers, or maybe it was to keep the hype on them rather than their competition, however, it was more than likely to demonstrate exactly where they are at with this incredible technology. I mean, okay, so there aren’t zombies breaking down walls, or futuristic ray-guns with sensory feedback, or even an email client to scroll through, but what they will have to offer in the future is sure to be mind-blowing, and it’s not something you’re going to want to miss out on.

Written on November 12, 2015