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Magic Leap is still figuring out what 'mixed reality' is

Magic Leap is still figuring out what 'mixed reality' is
From Engadget - July 11, 2017

Magic Leap is a startup that feels like it came from the mind of a Silicon Valley writer, rather than having any place in the real world. It's raised well over a billion dollars in funding, counting giants such as Google and Alibaba among its investors, and yet most of the world is all but oblivious to what the company is working on behind closed doors.

We know it's some form of augmented reality wearable, and one that uses digital light field tech to project images into your eye, mimicking the natural way light hits your retinas. The tech is supposed to make digital objects so real it's "like dreaming with your eyes open."

Magic Leap does not like the term 'augmented reality.' As Devine put it today, if virtual reality immerses you in another world, and augmented reality puts digital objects on top of your world, then Magic Leap does neither. It's developing amixed reality,' where digital objects and characters become part of your world. It works alongside the context of your reality: From what time it is to where you are, to what's in front of you, where you are looking and who you are with. "Mixed reality is digital content that interacts with the real world, and with you," says Devine.

The company imagines mixed reality as an entirely new platform. Not a peripheral, like a console is to a TV, or a VR headset is to a PC, but something new. "Mixed reality has the opportunity to lift people's heads up again, and put information back out in front of people... Mixed reality has the opportunity to actually place you back into where you should be instead of hanging out on a smartphone."

The only problem with creating something entirely new is figuring out where to start. "If the platform is to succeed, we need a very different kind of application," Devine said. "And there, we have no idea of the controls because it's everything. It's my hands, it's my head pose, it's my gaze, it's my smartphone, it's things I write down on a piece of paper, it's controllers... it's everything. It's everything that we use in the real world today. And that's really hard."

Devine is adamant that "mixed reality is going to change the world" -- which he says with all the enthusiasm you'd expect from someone with the title Chief Game Wizard at the world's most secretive and hyped startup. He knows, though, that people wo not be buying whatever hardware the company is cooking up, but experiences. "It's most of what we do."

Describing the company's experience prototyping process, Devine says Magic Leap is still learning what mixed reality means. But there are a few key musts internal pitches are built around: The idea must be indispensable and something you'd return to every day. It also has to be something only mixed reality can deliver and sell people on the entire concept. And most importantly, "can Magic Leap learn from it?"

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