All posts in “Magic Leap”

Magic Leap’s ultra-hyped AR headset is finally available

After many years of hype around a product that was unseen, Magic Leap opened the curtain to unveil the Magic Leap One last month.

Today, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition goes on sale for $2,295. But this is still far from a consumer release — the pricey kit is aimed at developers who want to make content for the new platform.

The system includes the company’s Lightwear augmented-reality headset, a tiny Lightpack computer, and a controller. While anyone can order one, the price will likely limit it to early adopters, and it’s only available to ship to certain cities, since the deal includes a hand delivery and a personal setup.

Right now the apps for it are limited and aren’t on the same par as a giant whale jumping out of a gym floor (an early graphical tease from the company). There are only a few games currently out, though more should come as developers get their hands on the system. Magic Leap has a big vision for the future of spatial computing (AKA mixed reality).

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While developers can get one now, the bigger question is: When will the consumer version launch, and how much will it cost? 

That’s still unclear, but it will likely have a similar design with a headset that looks like high-tech swimming googles. It is impressive that the computer can fit in such a compact puck, which you clip onto your bag or jacket. From the look of it, Magic Leap’s untethered experience doesn’t seem half bad, but I’m still skeptical of the quality as I haven’t had the chance to try it yet.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition includes the headset, computer, and controller.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition includes the headset, computer, and controller.

Image: Magic Leap

The promise of Magic Leap heavily depends on developers who can grow the platform and release more apps and content for it. It will likely be an uphill battle with heavy competition from Microsoft’s HoloLens. At the same time, Apple and Google are pushing their own AR experiences with SDKs and hardware features like the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera. That said, Magic Leap has plenty of capital behind it, and in July AT&T signed up to be the exclusive retailer of the headset.

We look forward to seeing what developers and early adopters make for the Magic Leap.

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Magic Leap One AR headset for devs costs more than 2x the iPhone X

It’s been a long and trip-filled wait but mixed reality headgear maker Magic Leap will finally, finally be shipping its first piece of hardware this summer.

We were still waiting on the price-tag — but it’s just been officially revealed: The developer-focused Magic Leap One ‘creator edition’ headset will set you back at least $2,295. So a considerable chunk of change — albeit this bit of kit is not intended as a mass market consumer device but is an AR headset for developers to create content that could excite future consumers.

The augmented reality startup, which has raised at least $2.3 billion, according to Crunchbase, attracting a string of high profile investors including Google, Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz and others, is only offering its first piece of reality bending eyewear to “creators in cities across the contiguous U.S.”.

Potential buyers are asked to input their zip code via its website to check if it will agree to take their money but it adds that “the list is growing daily”.

We tried the TC SF office zip and — unsurprisingly — got an affirmative of delivery there. But any folks in, for example, Hawaii wanting to spend big to space out are out of luck for now…

Magic Leap specifies it will “hand deliver” the package to buyers — and “personally get you set up”.

So evidently it wants to try to make sure its first flush of expensive hardware doesn’t get sucked down the toilet of dashed developer expectations.

It describes the computing paradigm it’s seeking to shift, with the help of enthused developers and content creators, as “spatial computing” — but it really needs a whole crowd of technical and creative people to step with it if it’s going to successfully deliver that.

At long last, Magic Leap’s headset finally has a ship date

After almost four years of hype and billions of dollars in funding, Magic Leap finally has a ship date for the first version of its augmented reality headset. 

The Magic Leap One will begin shipping to developers later this summer, the company announced Wednesday. 

Following news of a fresh round of funding and an exclusive deal with AT&T,  the headset’s creators hosted a live stream to announce that the long awaited ship date would be coming soon. And while there’s still no word on an exact time frame, knowing it’s coming this summer is better than nothing — especially since the company had previously promised an “early 2018” release.

Magic Leap also used the live stream as an opportunity to show off a new AR demo of the technology. Though the pre-recorded demo didn’t show the actual headset, we did see some mixed reality content coupled with a few hand gestures.

Not all viewers were impressed with the demo, though. After flashy concept videos that promised mind-blowing immersive AR, these demos looked a little more like other augmented reality experiences.

Still, these are early demos and the Magic Leap Creator noted they don’t convey the full experience of using the headset. Regardless, shipping to developers will be an important milestone for the secretive startup, which has had a tumultuous couple of years. 

After generating lots of early hype thanks to flashy concept videos and a multibillion-dollar valuation, excitement began to falter. A report in the Information claimed some employees were concerned the company had oversold its technology. Then, Business Insider published a photo of an early prototype that showed a junky-looking backpack-mounted system. 

By the time the company showed off images of the final design last year, it was mocked for its ugly steampunk-meets-spider-eyes look.

That criticism may not end up mattering, assuming the developer release goes well and Magic Leap can keep the hype train going long enough for a consumer-ready product (a big if). But that fact that real life humans and non-Magic Leap employees will soon be able to hold and use their own headsets is certainly a step in the right direction.

Now we just have to wait to find out if the hype is real.

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Axel Springer is investing in Magic Leap for some reason


Magic Leap is the gift that keeps on giving. The company has been working for years on augmented reality technologies and raised a gigantic pile of cash on the way. German media company Axel Springer is announcing today that it is investing an undisclosed amount in Magic Leap.

The German company is taking a stake in Magic Leap through its Axel Springer Digital Ventures division. In its press release, Axel Springer says that Magic Leap represents a good opportunity when it comes to consuming journalistic content and classifieds in a novel way (though I’m not convinced people want to read about garage sales in augmented reality).

Magic Leap showed off its first augmented reality headset in December 2017. The Magic Leap One is a headset, a belt-worn hip pack and a handheld controller. When you look at the startup’s press photos, it looks like a cumbersome device.

Many details are still unclear. For instance, the company hasn’t shared anything about pricing and software features. It’s hard to grasp the use case of the device without this information.

The Magic Leap One will be released at some point in 2018 for creators and content developers. End users won’t play around with the device just yet. The startup is targeting enthusiastic AR developers first.

Magic Leap has raised nearly $2 billion from Google, Alibaba, Warner Bros, Qualcomm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and many others according to Crunchbase data.

The company disclosed a new $502 million Series D round in October 2017. Axel Springer’s investment could be part of this round. I’ve asked the company to clarify this investment a bit and they wouldn’t comment any further.

AR/VR startups raised $3 billion last year led by a few industry juggernauts


Tech companies working with augmented reality and virtual reality technologies raised more than $3 billion in venture funding in 2017. This data comes from analytics firm Digi-Capital and suggests that while the buzz surrounding the AR/VR space has tapered off, the sheer amount of cash getting pumped into the industry is continuing to surge.

Though the report’s numbers highlight 2017’s marked dollar increase over 2016 investments, deal flow seems to be lighter, with more than half of this cash coming from just four massive deals:

While juggernauts like Niantic, Improbable and Unity were able to raise hundreds of millions from investors this year with pitches that undoubtedly touched on the future importance of AR/VR technologies, the strong, more traditional, gaming industry backbone that the companies have was likely key to them scoring that capital now.

Magic Leap is the industry’s biggest outlier, and now that we actually have an idea what their first product is going to look like, it’s probably going to start looking more like a real company. We still don’t know when exactly their product is coming or how much it will cost, but we more critically have no idea how much of the company’s efforts will skew toward enterprise versus traditional consumers.

For smaller companies that raised seed rounds for their VR ambitions in 2016 and 2017, the trend toward fewer deals (as evidenced by Crunchbase findings here) suggest that the frothiness is subsiding and there may be fewer follow-on rounds and more AR/VR startups joining the dead pool.

In the latter half of 2017, the focus moved from headset-based VR to mobile-based AR with Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore at the center of attention. The reception has been limited, given that the app’s built on the platforms have been skewed toward visualization only and pretty much suck as a result. The consumer AR headset space is largely bone-dry as companies wait to see where Apple points the industry and Microsoft and Magic Leap build for the consumers of 10 years from now.

There are still signs of promise, but the AR/VR hype correction of 2017 took the wind out of a lot of sails in the AR/VR space, while Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are the ones with pockets deep enough to see what’s left. It’s nice to see so much money found its way to startups, but when it comes to an emerging technology, seeing this downward trend in deal flow is concerning.