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posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 27 2020, @03:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the promise-the-world dept.

Magic Leap's $2.6 billion bait and switch – TechCrunch:

Two years ago I attended an "Innovation in Immersive Storytelling" event at Industrial Light & Magic, featuring the Chief Game Wizard of Magic Leap. I should have known then, from all the strained corporate sorcery in that sentence, that their demise was inevitable. But in fact I went into that talk a Magic Leap skeptic, and came out ... less so.

Magic Leap drew in a lot of true believers over the years; $2.6 billion worth. Investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Google (not Google Ventures — Google itself) and many many more. Sundar Pichai joined Magic Leap's board. And did they rave. I mean, it's a VC's job to rave about their portfolio companies, but this was different:

Now there is something new. Not just an order-of-magnitude more pixels or a faster frame rate, but – thanks to sensors and optics and mobile phone volumes and breakthroughs in computer vision – something I always dreamed of ... The product is amazing ... this is different

Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins.

It was incredibly natural and almost jarring — you're in the room, and there's a dragon flying around, it's jaw-dropping and I couldn't get the smile off of my face

Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull

Legendary and a16z had previously invested in Oculus Rift. Tull even told TechCrunch "Magic Leap takes a completely different approach." This is especially interesting because when Magic Leap finally — finally, after 5 years and $1.6 billion — released a product, Oculus's Palmer Luckey wrote a truly scathing teardown of the Magic Leap One. Again, yes he would do so ... but the details are quite striking ...

They call it the "Lightwear". This is the part that has gotten the most hype over the years, with endless talk of "Photonic Lightfield Chips", "Fiber Scanning Laser Displays", "projecting a digital light field into the user's eye", and the holy-grail promise of solving vergence-accommodation conflict, an issue that has plagued HMDs for decades ... TL;DR: The supposed "Photonic Lightfield Chips" are just waveguides paired with reflective sequential-color LCOS displays and LED illumination, the same technology everyone else has been using for years, including Microsoft in their last-gen HoloLens. The ML1 is a not a "lightfield projector" or display by any broadly accepted definition

What happened to that "completely different approach?"

See also:


Original Submission

Related Stories

Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware 10 comments

A paywalled story by The Information — The Reality Behind Magic Leap — criticized Magic Leap for the company's $4.5 billion valuation and lack of shipping products. The company is working on an augmented reality product that may prove to be inferior to competing designs such as Microsoft's HoloLens:

In The Information article, Magic Leap is said to use cumbersome equipment in its demonstrations that is at odds with the elegant design of the sunglasses-like product the company said it intends to build. Instead of a sleek pair of shades and low-impact tethering to a small battery pack, the demonstration required a helmet-sized device called "WD3," or "wearable device three," leashed to a desktop computer that the reviewer described as displaying "jittery and blurry" imagery.

This is apparently the same gear that Magic Leap execs showed investors, such as Alibaba and Google, in the lead-up to its $793 million Series C round of funding earlier this year. Previously, the company had used a refrigerator-sized device known internally as "the Beast" in demonstrations, a piece of hardware offering visuals that may prove unattainable in smaller appliances, at least anytime soon.

The headset that The Information previewed, the WD3, is not the latest prototype, which is dubbed PEQ, or "product equivalent," as The Information notes. Though former employees told the tech news site that the PEQ spectacles use similar technology to Microsoft's HoloLens, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz disputed the claim in the article and said it "already produced images with more depth that look better" than the $3,000 competitor.

The article also claims that a promotional video implied to be demonstrating the company's technologies was produced by a special effects studio instead.

Not to be confused with Leap Motion. Also at The Verge, CNBC, PC Magazine , and MIT.

Original Submission

Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware? 4 comments

Magic Leap has announced an augmented reality/mixed reality display. The price is unknown, but Magic Leap says it will ship in 2018:

After more than three years, Magic Leap has unveiled what it describes as a "creator edition" of its augmented reality system. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized cyberpunk-y goggles, a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack, and a handheld controller. It's supposed to accept "multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking," and maps persistent objects onto the environment — "place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it," the site promises. An SDK is supposedly coming in early 2018, and the hardware is supposed to ship at some point next year.

Magic Leap invited Rolling Stone to try out some demos, which include virtual characters that can react to eye contact, a floating virtual comic book, and a virtual live performance using volumetric camera capture. The piece seems to refute rumors that Magic Leap was having difficulty shrinking its technology to goggle size while keeping performance up, saying that "there was no stuttering or slowdowns, even when I walked around the performance, up close and far away."

The "puck-sized" tethered computer is an interesting compromise. It doesn't look like it would hinder mobility that much (you could compare it to a Walkman plus headphones), and it's much smaller than "VR backpack" concepts. However, it could be a good sign that you should not be an early adopter of Magic Leap One (which is actually the ninth generation of their hardware internally, according to Rolling Stone).

Some still call it vaporware. There is no video footage of the device being worn, and images have been retouched to "edit out some sensitive IP".

Will it take privacy seriously?

Again, not to be confused with Leap Motion.

Also at BBC, Tom's Hardware, Road to VR, Engadget, BGR, 9to5Google.

Previously: Developers Race to Develop VR Headsets that Won't Make Users Nauseous
Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware

Original Submission

Magic Leap Opens Up Orders for $2,295 "Creator Edition" Augmented Reality Headset 21 comments

After years of hype, Magic Leap starts selling $2,300 AR headset

After years of behind-closed-doors demos and over-the-top hype, Magic Leap's augmented reality glasses took one more step towards reality today. The company has opened up orders for the $2,295 "Creator Edition" of its first headset, the Magic Leap One.

That price includes in-person delivery and setup of the developer-focused hardware, though that delivery is only available in select US cities for the time being—Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle will be covered on day one. Those in other locations have to reserve a spot and wait for wider availability.

The hand-delivery is in part to determine which of two adjustable sizes for the headset is most appropriate for you—Magic Leap says "you'll be measured upon delivery to ensure the perfect fit." Magic Leap also says "limited quantities" are being made available now and that delivery of current orders will take place within "120 days and typically much sooner."

Compare the price to the $3,000-$5,000 developer versions of Microsoft's HoloLens, or the $1,500 Google Glass.

It requires a connected "lightpack" computer that clips onto a pocket or shoulder strap. The device has an Nvidia Tegra X2 chipset (2 Denver 2.0 cores, 4 ARM Cortex A57 cores, with one Denver core and two of the A57 cores accessible to developers), 8GB of memory, 128GB of storage, and a battery supposedly offering 3 hours of use. It also comes with a wireless handheld controller similar to ones offered by Oculus, Samsung, etc., although it is fully tracked by the headset's cameras, offering "a full range of motion" according to The Verge.

The field of view of the device is 40° horizontal, 30° vertical. This is larger than HoloLens's 30° horizontal, 17.5° vertical field of view, but is far less than that of VR headsets (typically 100-110° horizontal, and 200-210° horizontal for the Pimax and StarVR headsets) and human vision (around 220° horizontal when including peripheral vision).

Detailed review at The Verge.

Previously: Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware
Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?

Original Submission

Magic Leap Accuses Chinese Company of Copying Trade Secrets 9 comments

Secretive Magic Leap Says Ex-Engineer Copied Headset for China

Magic Leap Inc., a U.S. startup that makes a headset to project digital objects onto the real world, accused one of its former engineers of stealing its technology to create his own augmented reality device for China.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Magic Leap alleges that Chi Xu, who left in 2016, exploited its confidential information to "quickly develop a prototype of lightweight, ergonomically designed, mixed reality glasses for use with smart phones and other devices that are strikingly similar" to the Florida-based startup's designs.

The lawsuit marks the latest accusation from an American firm of intellectual property theft by Chinese companies, a perennial sore point that's helped escalate tensions between the world's two largest economies. With more than $2 billion in financing, Magic Leap is one of the better-funded startups delving into so-called augmented or mixed reality, a technology that gives users the illusion that fantastical, three-dimensional digital objects exist in the physical world.

Many have accused Magic Leap of being vaporware. But now its precious vapors have been collected by people who could actually make something out of it.

Also at The Verge.

Previously: Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware
Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?

Original Submission

2020: The Year of AR? "$2.6 Billion Flop" Magic Leap Pivots to Enterprise 10 comments

In 2020, smart glasses may start looking totally normal

It doesn't pay to be an early adopter. Smart glasses maker North, which developed a pair of glasses called Focals earlier this year, has just announced an updated version for 2020. That means the first Focals, which displayed notifications via a retinal-projection technology that looked like a tiny pop-up window in one eye, are being discontinued, the company says.

The improved glasses promise to be 40% lighter and have 10 times the display resolution of the first version. "We spent the last year in the market learning how to build, sell and support smart glasses with our first-gen product, that we now will combine with over five years of research working on the technology upgrades in Focals 2.0," Steven Lake, North CEO, said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Magic Leap has struggled to move its Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets despite over $2.6 billion in funding:

The Information today published an in-depth report about Magic Leap's state of affairs. Most notable is how it apparently only sold 6,000 Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets in the first six months.

Priced at $2,295, buyers get a "Lightwear" headset that connects to a puck-shaped "Lightpack" computer worn around their waist. CEO Rony Abovitz reportedly had an initial goal of 1 million devices in the first year before settling with 100,000.

Magic Leap Gets $500 Million in Funding... Again 5 comments

Seven years after raising $542M at a $2B valuation, Magic Leap raises $500M at a $2B valuation

Magic Leap has had one hell of a journey, and to their credit, it seems investors are still addicted to giving them money.

The augmented reality startup announced today that they have raised $500 million at a $2 billion valuation from existing investors. The round echoes the terms of an October 2014 raise where Magic Leap raised $542 million at a reported $2 billion valuation. Quite a bit has happened in the meantime.

Curiously, Magic Leap decided not to actually disclose any of the specific investors participating in this latest fundraise. At this point, the company has raised $3.5 billion in total funding according to Crunchbase, meaning that most of the investors they've brought in haven't fared too well thus far.

Magic Leap 2 Teased For 2022 With Taller Field Of View

A blog post by Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson features an image, pictured below, comparing the field of view of the first and second generation AR headsets. While Magic Leap 2 seems to have small gains in horizontal field of view, vertically the augmentation of your vision should be far more significant with the new device. The company is said to have raised another $500 million to roll-out the second generation product focused toward business markets in 2022. "Select customers" are "already leveraging its capabilities through an early access program," according to the company.

Also at The Verge.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by drussell on Monday April 27 2020, @11:43AM (4 children)

    by drussell (2678) on Monday April 27 2020, @11:43AM (#987499) Journal

    I have no idea what a magic leap is but I read down far enough to see the word Oculus... so I assume I don't even remotely care.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @01:43PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @01:43PM (#987520)

      What? You can't see the visuals? It's incredible. Here, try some Kool-Aid.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:08PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:08PM (#987525)

        "Seeing dragons flying around the room" does suggest that something was added to the investors' Kool-Aid.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:54PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:54PM (#987539)

      I have no idea what a magic leap is

      I read a little further and it appears a magic leap is synonymous with a flying fuck; eg: "Thanks for the cash Mr investor, if you think you'll see a return you can go take the magic leap I couldn't give"!

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday April 27 2020, @05:19PM

      by Freeman (732) on Monday April 27 2020, @05:19PM (#987562) Journal

      It's a great thing you're here on SoylentNews then, since you're so interested in "articles about technology, science, and general interest."

      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:17PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @02:17PM (#987527)

    Even big money fails
    It’s why nobody was making electric cars before Tesla; they were all waiting for someone to go first

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Freeman on Monday April 27 2020, @05:48PM (3 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Monday April 27 2020, @05:48PM (#987578) Journal

      Someone did make electric cars, before Tesla. They just didn't take off like Tesla.

      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 2) by iWantToKeepAnon on Monday April 27 2020, @06:05PM (2 children)

        by iWantToKeepAnon (686) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 27 2020, @06:05PM (#987583) Homepage Journal

        They just didn't take off like Tesla

        Pun intended??

        "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday April 27 2020, @06:19PM (1 child)

          by Freeman (732) on Monday April 27 2020, @06:19PM (#987587) Journal

          I see no pun, but maybe I'm crazy.

          Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by iWantToKeepAnon on Friday May 01 2020, @05:52PM

            by iWantToKeepAnon (686) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 01 2020, @05:52PM (#989076) Homepage Journal
            "take off" = SpaceX and Tesla, both Elon Musk's. Ok, maybe not that punny. :p
            "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday April 27 2020, @04:40PM (2 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 27 2020, @04:40PM (#987555) Journal

    This is what happens when ignorance rules. They can't and scarcely even try to tell that an idea is too ambitious, vague, or just total pie-in-the-sky, magical thinking bunk. The basic idea could in fact be sound, but they've greatly underestimated the difficulties. Think they will have a pleasant, easy stroll over to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or that at the least there's a way, and they'll work it out, somehow.

    I have worked for a few startups that were, unfortunately, of this sort. I was too happy just to have a job to want to scrutinize their business plans too closely, and ask hard questions. They of course strongly discouraged such questioning. Try it anyway, and they would hit back with counter attacks, such as, are you questioning their competence? Tech Person, are you an expert in managing a company? Had training in business school? No? Not an extrovert either, huh? Then stop being a rude, arrogant know-it-all engineer, since you don't know what you're talking about, and zip it, if you want the job. At one of these, the boss had it in for the PhDs. Said he'd never been able to work with those people, and blamed it on them. I thought it seemed much more likely the problem was him, not all of them. He was forever playing stupid little mind games with the PhDs, to try to show them up, make himself look smarter than them.

    There were a number of these sorts of bad signs, and I didn't heed them. Thought things could stay professional. Eventually, it becomes obvious to all that progress is not being made, and the money is running short. Things started nice and easy, and slowly got nastier and uglier. You may be blamed for not helping the plan succeed, and the fact that they wanted you to not bother your head about the plan, shut up, don't ask certain questions, and just follow orders is somehow forgotten. At one of the last meetings, the boss started it in a very accusatory, whiny way. Complained that we were failing him, weren't stepping up and doing enough, by which he meant, that despite having been kept mostly in the dark, we were supposed to figure out what the business really needed, and do that, in addition to the regular work we'd been assigned. Called us a "bunch of pussies". I thought about walking out right then and there, and in hindsight, I probably should have. It wasn't for his sake that I stayed on, it was for my friends among the employees and contractors. Of course reminding management that they didn't want the engineers' input is perfectly useless, unless you want more confirmation that they aren't going to deal fairly and own up to things. They weren't sober and fair to the investors, why, when the pinch comes, would they be that way towards mere employees or, even lower, contractors?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 28 2020, @11:12AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 28 2020, @11:12AM (#987783)

      You're not reading into the situation enough. They're telling you the money is flowing, they are getting paid, you are getting paid, everyone is happy. Of course, this is not to say, you and your boss are friends. He'll throw you under the bus as soon as it is convenient, nothing personal.

      Your boss is still at an advantage over you since he gets to look into the big picture financial reports. That's one insider information you don't have to determine when to jump ship.

      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday April 28 2020, @11:51AM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 28 2020, @11:51AM (#987787) Journal

        True enough, and when the money was gone, they did pull the old trick of not informing everyone that they couldn't make payroll. Our last month of work was involuntarily unpaid. At the start of the month, they gambled that with a few new features implemented and running they could magically turn the corner, see a sudden and highly improbable growth in sales, and with that revenue, pay everyone on time. The programmers delivered the features that the boss demanded, even meeting his much accelerated schedule, and that still didn't lead to the hoped for sales boost.

        Fact was, their product was not the great new breakthrough in work management and communication that they had envisioned it would be. It'd been hyped to the max, and not just by them, but also at trade shows. They wanted success so much that they got to believing all the hype, especially when it was echoed back at them. We were eating our own dogfood, give them that at least. As I had to use it, I could see a lot of problems with it. Chief among those was that it evaded hard questions. Well, Agile can't save a project either, if the idea to which the Agile-fu is being applied is no good. Mean old reality put an end to their dream. Afterwards, one of my thoughts was that trade shows are not to be trusted. At a trade show, talk is cheap.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Monday April 27 2020, @04:48PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 27 2020, @04:48PM (#987556) Journal

    It’s worth noting there was some spin-that-more-than-verged-on-deception going on. Magic Leap sent an email to press with a video and the claim “This is a game we’re playing around the office right now”; subsequently, The Information revealed that entire video was F/X, created by Weta Digital.

    That story came out in December 2016. Should have been a warning, I guess.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @09:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27 2020, @09:48PM (#987635)

    If magic is science we don't understand then does that mean that science is magic we do understand?

    One could argue that our very existence and the existence of everything we observe is, indeed, magic. The fact that consistent patterns continue to persist when there is an infinite degree of different possible future states that don't follow consistent patterns and there are a very limited number of future states that will continue to follow the consistent patterns we continue to expect from one moment to the next is the magic that the universe constantly presents to us.

    How well do we really understand it?