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Magic Leap: "We're kinda like a baby Apple"

Enigmatic company is in "go mode," will start debugging the "high-volume production line" for its lightweight, subtle headset this summer

Magic Leap is officially in "go mode," according to CEO Rony Abovitz, with the now 600-strong company preparing to debug its "high-volume production line" this summer.

Speaking alongside CMO Brian Wallace at Fortune Magazine's Brainstorm conference, Abovitz responded to a question about Magic Leap's public debut with an enigmatic "Soon-ish," emphasising that the still mysterious "mixed reality lightfield technology" is closer than many might expect.

"We have our systems working," he said. "Motorola had a really big factory down in South Florida, and we've taken over a big part of that campus. We have production lines that look like aircraft carriers that are class 100 cleanrooms. That's running right now, and we're debugging our high-volume production line... this summer. We are in that go mode."

Although the company's NDAs have done an excellent job in restricting the amount of publicly available information, Abovitz estimated that "thousands" of people have now tried Magic Leap. Wallace supported that claim, describing the large number of people both within the company and without that are working with the technology on a daily basis.

"No one else has a solution like this, which is going to allow us to have a form factor that you're not going to mind wearing out in the world every day"

"I think it's important to understand that there's already external developers working on our systems, day in, day out, creating content and experiences," he said. "We have people in our offices who are wearing these things all day, for hours at a time... This is very real. It's not in research mode any more."

The fact that Magic Leap's employees are wearing the device for such long periods is crucial to the company's thinking. Contrary to the patent that surfaced last month. Abovitz insisted that, "what we're designing is not so crazy looking. It's more subtle... We're pretty much wanting to get people into it all day long. Our goal is all day, every day regular kind of computing, where instead of a small screen you have the whole of the world around you."

"Because we're using the brain and the eye system to generate these images, we don't require all of that computational power to generate a new world," Wallace added. "That allows us to make the devices very small, lightweight and portable. No one else has a solution like this, which is going to allow us to have a form factor that you're not going to mind wearing out in the world every day."

The emphasis on a subtle, portable form factor will be crucial to Magic Leap reaching a mainstream audience, with Wallace predicting that adoption will, "happen faster than anyone thinks."

"That being said, is it gonna happen year one? No. Is it gonna happen year two? Slowly, but by year three - so that puts us in the 2020s - you're going to come to a conference like this and I guarantee you that 70 or 80% of the people here are going to be wearing a device like Magic Leap."

Magic Leap has raised a frankly astonishing $1.3 billion in funding so far, and Abovitz believes that the investment is necessary to realise the company's ambitions. "We're kinda like a baby Apple," he said. "There's no way to do it unless you design it all. It's a little scary, but we're doing it."

The full interview, which is flecked with insights into the company's strategy and the product itself, is below.

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Latest comments (9)

>"..Go Mode..", "..soon-ish.." and "...this is very real.."
Seeing these inflated trigger words used to keep the momentum going in the company scares me to my very core. I have placed my name on record of being incredibly skeptical of what Magic Leap is proposing. Especially as the description of the deliverable seems to be a moving target a modern day "Emporer's new clothes"!

I think we really need to be firm with those that try the secret hyperbole approach to commerce - if they do not deliver, they need to be named and shamed. This industry is far too vulnerable to allow this kind of 'snake oil' approach, and the legal spat with ex-employees that exploded onto the news should have all of us less willing to pay lip service to this kind of fluff pieces.
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Bostjan Troha CEO, Zootfly2 years ago
Don't forget "baby Apple".
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Bill Young Head of Strategic Partnerships & Sponsorships, esports, Twitch2 years ago
again...i have such a difficult time understanding the bearish perspective on AR, VR, MR, and the innovative companies leading the charge. Are you expecting him to announce a launch date? Release specs? Did you watch the video? It actually provided a lot of context for where their heads are at - and personally, I'm not expecting a private company with so much capital invested into such an ambitious product/vision to put much more than that out into the public forum...why would they?
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It simple @Bill - "...if you can't say, don't say!"
The danger is that they will over hype this just because they can hide behind the "we can't give details but..." while claiming much.

I need to make it clear - I have not signed the Magic Leap NDA, and I hope that someone affiliated with them would not enter this discussion for the obvious reasons. We are glad that Magic Leap is in "go mode" - it's time to shape up or shut up!
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Yes @John - I have followed Lightfield and Glass Door technology since the applications in medical and Vis-Sim in the 90's. The application that is being demonstrated currectly uses a DK unit that is based around a Vis-Sim headset.

Also the link with ophthalmology (eye surgery) is facinating, and I recently saw a demo from a company that prefers to stay dark about their intentions in the market than call themselves "...baby-Apple"!

Seriously, I think MXR is going to be bigger than VR and AR combined, and its link to location-based applications have been well illustrated by a rudimentary mobile game like Pokemon-GO. The question has to be, is the walled garden that ML proposing with its restrictive NDA, and ardous licensing and partnership agreements the best way to flourish the market (against an individuals networth) - the same question we are asking of OculusVR!
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John Pickford Owner, Zee 32 years ago
There's something a tad sinister about this start up planning for 80% us to have their visors strapped to our faces in the 2020's. Feels like a plot from Doctor Who.

The tech is fascinating but I'm not sure I want a permanent pair of rose-tinted glasses.
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James Barnard Founder / Developer, Springloaded2 years ago
I hope it works out for them... But when you haven't launched a single product, and haven't even told the public what your product is- comparing yourselves to one of the most successful and regularly innovative companies on earth sounds a touch arrogant. That said I can't wait to try it out when they finally let us know more!
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....comparing yourselves to one of the most successful and regularly innovative companies on earth sounds a touch arrogant.
Winner of understatement of the month @James. :)
I am even more concerned after watching the WIRED interview, a major fluff piece that mirrored the Fortune conversation. Best put so you don't need to waste your life watching them, they come up with the term 'Photovoltaic chip' to describe their holographic lens used to project onto, and showed (behind closed doors) more demos.

All sounds good so far - but for the lack of timescales, deliverables or achievable's. And the big question, why all the recent media coverage and exclusive interviews... they missed another promised demo date! I think the hardware is real, the competence of the company is the focus of my concern!
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Jordi Rovira i Bonet Lead Engineer, Anticto2 years ago
I don't know... my common sense would make me take my money as far away as i could from this company. But then I am not an investor.
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