Sunday Musings: Karl Speaks and Rony Tweets

Karl Guttag has posted his analysis of the Magic Leap One based on the photos and information that has been released thus far. The effort and time he has put into this is impressive. He managed to deduce the likely dimensions of the device and 3D print a reference design. If you are interested in a deep dive on this then I recommend reading the article. But don't let his negativity bring you down.  Read on for my thoughts on this.

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We only have half of the Magic Leap SDK

Recently, Magic Leap released its SDK to developers so they can start playing with what is possible on the Magic Leap platform. With these tools you can develop a full Magic Leap application to run on the device when it is eventually released. But the documentation and toolkit is incomplete. There is a huge section that is still yet to be released to the public. 

That is, the Lumin Runtime. And it could completely change how you think about apps.

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This week is shaping up to be huge for Magic Leap

GDC is on us and it looks like Magic Leap is coming out in force. 

The team has been tweeting out images of a building decked out with Magic Leap logos and even a shot of a NASA spacesuit just in case we all forgot that TED talk from years ago. 

I expect they will be showing demos in that room to either the press or GDC attendees. Worst case it will only be for select developers but regardless there are going to be many more people that have experiencing Magic Leap by the end of the week. 

At the same time it appears WETA Gameshop is having a coming out party of sorts. They have been working on a game called Dr. Grordbort for over 6 years in tandem with the development of Magic Leap hardware. I suspect we will finally see in-game footage similar to the concept they released years ago. 

 An SDK release is almost certain. This was tweeted by Magic Leaps cloud architect.

 And as users on /r/magicleap discovered https://developer.magicleap.com has changed. Still inaccessible, but the error message is new and the portal below the login appears to be "opening". 

 Should be a fun week ahead. I'm extremely curious how they decide to show footage of the device in action. We are going to know a lot more about what this first iteration of Magic Leap can do. 

 

Magic Leap is looking for more money

So it appears Magic Leap is looking for even more money. This would be on top of the ~$1.4 billion already thrown at the company.  That amount is already unprecedented so talk of further investment is nothing short of astonishing. The thing that got me interested in the company in the first place was the ludicrous amount of investment they had raised from such interesting and respected sources. Piling more on top of this is just wild. 

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Mixed Reality mapping of the world will change the world

We all use Google Maps. It is arguably the most useful part of a smartphone. Being lost is, to a degree, a thing of the past. It is one of the most important innovations in recent memory and is perhaps the 'killer feature' of a smartphone. If Mixed Reality becomes popular, and we stretch our privacy a bit, then we are about to see another massive shift in mapping and how we see the world in general.

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No more mystery: Magic Leaps lessons from recent launches

Magic Leaps next move is a product launch.  Given the press reaction to partial information, a "show don't tell" mentality and a built in scepticism saying anything more at this point will be detrimental unless they can show it all. This product launch will be the most important moment for the company.  Obviously, their product needs to be great. Great products can overcome most obstacles. But not far behind is the messaging they are able to bring to the announcement. Many mediocre products have succeeded because of a good launch and many great products have failed due to a bad one. Whether it be a press conference, a pre-produced video or weeklong party, coming out of the launch announcement with praise from the zeitgeist can be a real difference maker.

There have been a few high profile product launches in the past year that have been fascinating to watch. Between No Mans Sky, The Google Pixel, New MacBooks and, most recently, the Nintendo Switch we have lots of fodder to go though and there is much for Magic Leap to learn. 

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Changing Expectations: What do we expect from Magic Leap now?

We were always hoping Magic Leap were keeping the cards close to their chest in terms of what technology they have developed.  It make sense. When the only people you are marketing to are investors and talent to hire then you want to make it seem like you have something that no one else does.  You want to make it feel like they could be part of something amazing. But that time has come to an end. They are no longer an R&D company. They are a product company or hope to be. They are no longer talking to investors and talent exclusively. They are talking to us. The consumer.

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Opposing evidence: Is Magic Leap actually boring?

If you are interested in Magic Leap (and if you are reading this site, you certainly are) then you really should be reading Karl Guttag's blog. He has done some excellent analysis of the video that Magic Leap has released and come to some conclusions of what technology is being used. Unlike many reports, Guttag far less optimistic about the company. He paints a picture that puts Magic Leap in the same sort of place as many competitors. The advantages such as fiber scanning displays and high resolution are all but a dream in his analysis.

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The people who have tried Magic Leap

At this point "1000s" of people have tried some incarnation of Magic Leap. Most of these people will be the employees or potential employees of Magic Leap, investors and content creators. All of them are under NDA and are not particularly interested in discussing their experience. But there are a few reporters who have been invited to try prototypes at different stages of development. They are still under NDA but are doing their best to tell us what they saw under these heavy restrictions. With each new article we see a slightly different twist on the bending of these restrictions and by putting them together we can build a more cohesive picture. 

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That elusive Magic Leap release date

I suspect Magic Leap is planning to launch their first product next fall/winter.  The evidence for this is shaky but I don't think it is an unreasonable guess. We know they are going to show us more "soon-ish".  While that could mean anything I hope means within ~1 year. We also hear rumours about Magic Leap being involved in the film "Ready Player One" which premieres early 2018 pinning that as the latest date for Magic Leap to release. They are at the stage of doing experimental production runs and are actively debugging their production line. They are hiring people to test development kitsdesign packagingmanage FCC compliance among many other positions that are all required towards the later stages of product development. This all points towards a plan to release late next year. But plans are just that. Plans.

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The inspirational power of Rony Abovitz at Harvard Hubweek

Rony Abovitz arrived to the talk by remote control telepresence bot to join Jon Hirschtick on stage. The 'uniqueness' of the appearance wasn't limited to just the use of telepresence, though. The event highlighted both a longstanding friendship and a nascent partnership between the two CEOs and their companies. OnShape is a leader in the Computer-Aided Design field with their Cloud platform for collaborative 3D design, and Jon Hirschtick himself was a founder and CEO of SolidWorks, one of the leading modeling and design tools in multiple industries. It was quite a special event to see two people with nearly a twenty year friendship, both pioneers and leaders in their fields, talk to each other about the future.

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Magic Leaps privacy predicament

Privacy always seems to be top of mind in the tech industry. It is a touchy subject and it is hard to have a nuanced conversation about.  There are vocal people on both sides of the privacy argument and separating economics and emotions from reality can be challenging.  Further complicating matters is that we, the public, constantly change what we are comfortable with while companies are constantly redefining what privacy even means.  Yet I would argue that all the ink spilled on the subject to date is but precursor to what will happen if Magic Leap is successful.  The potential for, and necessity of, data collection by Magic Leap will far exceed what any company has done in the past.  Magic Leap with have to tread carefully as it brings us into their future.

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