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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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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.