There’s been a fair amount of mystery—and money—surrounding Magic Leap, a Florida-based “mixed reality” startup that has tried the patience of people who have been waiting a few years now for the company’s first product.
That product, the Magic Leap One headset, is apparently getting closer to reality with a Wednesday announcement that AT&T has made a “significant investment” in Magic Leap and will become the exclusive wireless retail partner for the headset in the U.S.
Even so, the first version of the headset that Magic Leap subsequently said would come this summer, is pitched only to “qualified designers and developers.”
No pricing has been set but don't expect to be cheap.
It’s still not clear when a consumer version will turn up or what that version will cost, either. And AT&T is saying that when it does, the initial distribution will be limited to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with other markets to follow.
The Magic Leap One headset relies in part on “lightfield photonics” to trick our brain into processing digital objects the same way we do real-world objects. And sensors in the headset can detect surfaces, planes and objects, which Magic Leap has said allows for a digital reconstruction of your physical surroundings.
Whether speedy 5G networks coming in the next few years helps pump up interest in mixed reality, or, for that matter, virtual reality technologies, remains to be seen. The tech itself, though, is very cool.
AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan will have “observer rights” on Magic Leap’s board.
AT&T did not disclose the size of its financial investment in Magic Leap. But Magic Leap’s technology has already wowed such companies as Google and China’s Alibaba to the degree that these tech giants, among other companies, have collectively invested more than $2 billion in Magic Leap.
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