According to Recode’s sources, Google and a few others, including Marc Andreessen (who also invested in Oculus Rift in the early days), plan to invest $500 million into a start-up called “Magic Leap”, which is working on high-quality augmented reality.
According to Magic Leap, its technology isn’t well-described by the term “augmented reality”, because its technology offers much more realistic images than anything done before in the augmented reality space. This is why the company is calling it “cinematic reality”.
“Those are old terms — virtual reality, augmented reality. They have legacy behind them. They are associated with things that didn’t necessarily deliver on a promise or live up to expectations”, Rony Abovitz, Magic Leap’s CEO, told the South Florida Business Journal earlier this year. “We have the term ‘cinematic reality’ because we are disassociated with those things. … When you see this, you will see that this is computing for the next 30 or 40 years. To go farther and deeper than we’re going, you would be changing what it means to be human.”
The technology is also supposedly better than what Oculus Rift is using in some ways, because unlike the Oculus Rift where your eyes focus on infinity, Magic Leap uses “digital light field” technology (similar to the Lytro camera) to help the eye focus on close objects, too, much more like how the eye normally works. This should eliminate feelings of sickness that you may get using an Oculus Rift.
Head mounted displays (HMDs) using light field technology have had one major issue in the past – they need much higher resolutions to make the image just as clear as when using other technologies. Magic Leap seems to have solved this by projecting the image into your eyes, which is similar to how Avegant’s technology works.
Projecting the image into your eye means the device can show you an image at a much higher pixel density, which, according to Magic Leap, gets close to the resolution in which the human eye sees the world.
Magic Leap’s CEO envisions the technology to be more useful in everyday situations, rather than just for playing games. He seems to believe such technology could even make mobile phones obsolete in the future.
“Playing games is the dessert”, Mr. Abovitz told the NY Times earlier this year. “Our real market is people doing everyday things. Rather than pulling your mobile phone in and out of your pocket, we want to create an all-day flow; whether you’re going to the doctor or a meeting or hanging out, you will all of a sudden be amplified by the collective knowledge that is on the web.”
Google may not have had a huge success with Google Glass, but if the company is investing in Magic Leap’s technology, it hasn’t given up on making eyewear computing a reality. The “cinematic reality” technology from Magic Leap is probably not yet ready for primetime, but the CEO said it can eventually be “downsized into a pair of glasses”, making it ideal for Google’s eyewear project.