Magic Leap Lands Google Funds - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
10/21/2014
04:06 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Magic Leap Lands Google Funds

Virtual reality startup collects $542 million in first round of financing, plans to create images in the air similar to R2D2's projection of Princess Leia in Star Wars.

11 Geekiest Halloween Costumes
11 Geekiest Halloween Costumes
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Magic Leap, a Florida-based virtual reality startup, on Tuesday said it has completed a $542 million funding round to develop software development tools, content, and wearable, virtual reality gear.

Google led the financing round, which includes participation from Andreessen Horowitz, KKR, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Legendary Entertainment, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Vulcan Capital, and other investors.

Google SVP of Android, Chrome, and Apps Sundar Pichai will be joining Magic Leap's board of directors, with other executives from Google and Qualcomm joining as observers.

Virtual reality, widely hyped in the mid-1990s with 3D graphics technology Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) and in 2003 through Second Life, is suddenly all the rage again. After virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR won funding through Kickstarter in 2012 and was purchased for $2 billion in March by Facebook, it became clear that there is an audience for immersive 3D entertainment.

[Eager to try Apple's new payment system? Read Apple Pay: Where To Use It.]

Sony joined the fray that same month it revealed its Project Morpheus VR headset at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

And Google introduced a DIY cardboard VR headset, which requires an Android phone, at its developer conference, Google I/O, in June.

Rony Abovitz, president, CEO, and founder of Magic Leap, said in a statement that his company plans to change the way people think about mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. "We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share, and play," Abovitz said.

In a blog post, Abovitz says his company aims to extend the visceral experience of real-world activity to mobile computing. Reports about the company suggest it plans to create images in the air similar to R2D2's projection of Princess Leia in Star Wars. The company's website shows a child's hands open to reveal a tiny, floating elephant.

To make its projections visible, Magic Leap is likely to employ a head-mounted display (HMD), but not one that blinds the wearer to the world, like Oculus VR's headset. A Magic Leap patent application, "Ergonomic Head Mounted Display Device And Optical System," describes a see-through HMD with "an eyeglass-form appearance and a wide see-through field of view."

The company is also seeking a patent for a "Massive Simultaneous Remote Digital Presence World" that allows participants to interact through a variety of mobile devices. Imagine Second Life with reality as the background layer.

Two decades ago, virtual reality promised too much. "VRML advocates claim that 3D graphics are somehow better than 2D," wrote Steve G. Steinberg in Wired in 1995. "They're not. Look at the failure of everything from holograms to 3D movies. The only people who want 3D television -- or 3D Web pages -- are technologists impressed with their own skills."

Virtual reality got better with Second Life and games like World of Warcraft, but still failed to sustain mass market interest. Maybe this time will be different.

Apply now for the 2015 InformationWeek Elite 100, which recognizes the most innovative users of technology to advance a company's business goals. Winners will be recognized at the InformationWeek Conference, April 27-28, 2015, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Application period ends Jan. 9, 2015.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
saliknaqi
50%
50%
saliknaqi,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2014 | 8:21:43 AM
Facebook versus Google
Can a comparison be made with Facebook purchasing Oculus Rift and google investing in Magic leap?
kevinmn
50%
50%
kevinmn,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2014 | 7:17:51 AM
Google
Google is really smart. With Google moving ahead with its development of Glass, it seems perfectly plausible that the Web giant could at some point incorporate some of Magic Leap's technology into its own face-based computer.
zaious
50%
50%
zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
10/22/2014 | 12:16:44 AM
Re: This time, it may be for real
It is a bold step -I should say. If someone talked about virtual reality (VR) in 1999, it was mostly Sci Fi or plot for a Holywood movie. Now, VR is not a concept anymore. We are nearing to it, but I am not sure if the  potential applications will be ready to take care of R&D expenses. To me, VR is exciting, but it has limited applicability.
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2014 | 11:16:54 PM
This time, it may be for real
Virtual reality, in a manner similar to that of language translation based on artificial intelligence, have both been the technologies of the future for about a generation now. But, this time around the architects have some powerful components to build with, such as the "Ergonomic Head Mounted Display Device And Optical System" (which makes me think of Google Glass), that you mention. But will we first see virtual reality with mobile devices? I doubt it. Think of how much bandwidth a two dimensional video transmission requires, and then extrapolate to what the third dimension will call for. Maybe the first application will be gaming, or perhaps a simulation where soldiers or police officers can practice dangerous moves in complete safety, or perhaps surgeons can do dry runs of difficult operations.

 
Commentary
AI Regulation: Has the Time Arrived?
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  2/24/2020
News
Fighting the Coronavirus with Analytics and GIS
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/3/2020
Slideshows
IT Careers: 10 Job Skills in High Demand This Year
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  2/3/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll