Though mixed reality startup Magic Leap has received a good deal of attention since Google led a $542 million investment round in the Florida-based company in 2014. After Wired took a closer look at the firm’s Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology earlier this year, the company has been the subject of even more media discussion. Now, the phrase “mixed reality” now closely synonymous with the Magic Leap’s tech, which involves the projection of images directly into the retina of its users.
This tech, however, is still heavily shrouded in mystery, even as Magic Leap explores production and a more recent round of funding from Google has pushed the company to a valuation of $1.42B. While the rest of us may have to wait to see how (if?) this technology works or even what it looks like, 10 developers will have the opportunity to build apps for Magic Leap’s mysterious mixed reality device.
CEO Rony Abovitz announced in a Q&A session at Twilio’s Signal Conference that the company is launching a developer program that will be open to developers. One developer will be chosen via contest at next year’s Signal event. How the other nine developers will be picked has not been disclosed, though Twilio will be involved. Abovitz said in his session, “We’ll build a ‘Hello world, this is how you do stuff’ and then you guys build something with us and be amongst the first people in the world to get your hands on what we’re doing and make really cool things.” Magic Leap will also be working with Twilio to integrate its voice and text messaging API into the Magic Leap device, making Twilio the first company to be publicly announced as a partner.
Abovitz also hinted that Magic Leap could be available by next year’s Signal event by saying, “There’s a very good possibility.” The CEO gave very little other information about the technology, speaking only to the inspiration of their mixed reality device: “We wanted to go back to a place where there were just people, and technology would be this thing hovering there, almost like magic. Where it’s the primal social relationships that your ancestors had. Technology’s not in the way, it’s not interfering, it’s not taking over your life. It’s simply assisting your ability to make human connections.”
In other words, we still have no idea if the technology is even real and, as former 3DPI journalist Andrew Wheeler explains in a recent post on the subject, media hype regarding mysterious miracle tech can be damaging to everyone involved. Abovitz, however, has filed a lawsuit against two former executives from Magic Leap that he says have stolen the company’s mixed reality technology with plans to start their own rival device. That may not be good news for Magic Leap, but it may mean that we’ll get to see the technology sometime in the future.