Magic Leap is an incredibly secretive company based in Florida that develops “mixed reality” technology. While the company was valued at $4.5 billion in its latest round of financing, Magic Leap has never released a product. “It has never given a public demonstration of a product, never announced a product, and never explained the proprietary ‘lightfield’ technology that powers its products,” writes David M. Ewalt for Forbes. That may be about to change, however, as the CEO Rony Abovitz said in a rare interview that the company has spent a billion dollars perfecting a prototype and has begun constructing manufacturing lines in Florida (Editor’s note: may be paywalled, alternate source), gearing up for a release of a consumer version of its technology. “We are building a new kind of contextual computer,” Abovitz says. “We’re doing something really, really different.” The final product of theirs is expected to fit into a pair of glasses when everything is said and done. “When you’re wearing the device, it doesn’t block your view of the world; the hardware projects an image directly onto your retina through an optics system built into a piece of semitransparent glass (the product won’t fry your eyeballs; it’s replicating the way we naturally observe the world instead of forcing you to stare at a screen).” Forbes adds: The hardware also constantly gathers information, scanning the room for obstacles, listening for voices, tracking eye movements and watching hands. As a result, mixed-reality objects are aware of their environment and have the ability to interact with the real world. On Magic Leap’s hardware a Pokemon might escape capture by ducking behind your couch or, assuming you live in a “smart” home, turning off your lights and hiding in the dark. In one of its demos the Magic Leap team shows off a computer-generated “virtual interactive human,” life-size and surprisingly realistic. Abovitz and his team imagine virtual people (or animals or anything else) as digital assistants — think Siri on steroids, except with a physical presence that makes her easier to work with and harder to ignore. Ask your virtual assistant to deliver a message to a coworker and it might walk out of your office, reappear beside your colleague’s desk via his or her own MR headset and deliver the message in person. Ewalt goes on to write about Abovitz’s life growing up and the past companies he has founded, which have ultimately helped lead him to Magic Leap.
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