"Looking extremely real, very real. So much so I thought I could touch the character"
-Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney
These days, it seems every other week we get a new interview with folks at Magic Leap. This time it is courtesy of Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2016 conference. First off, Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, talks briefly about the experience he has had with Magic Leap off the back of the Star Wars partnership. He explains a demo where in tinkerbell flies around his head and right up to his face. His reaction is another in a long string of enthusiastic responses we have come to expect from seeing the technology. He claims that tinkerbell was so real he "thought [he] could touch the character". When asked to rate the experience given the context of all the amazing technology he sees as CEO of Disney, he says that it is easily a ten out of ten. He adds that the most exciting part is to imagine what comes next, as in, what other experiences can be made with this technology. Magic Leap and Disney have just entered a partnership so we can't take his word as an objective observer but he did seem genuinely excited and his remarks line up with everything else we have heard about the tech. You can see the full interview below, helpfully queued up to his thoughts on Magic Leap.
Next we have Rony Abovitz, the enigmatic CEO of Magic Leap and Brian Wallace, Magic Leaps CMO. Abovitz opens with his typical technobabble. In fact, this time he brought along a strange video where what I assume are cosmic rays hit some eyeballs and a floating pegasus appears in a brain. It is what we have come to expect from talks by Abovitz but he did say a few interesting things amongst the mostly nonsense.
"It's a lightweight headset", claims Abovitz. Specifically, it isn't a pair of glasses. The distinction in his mind is that glasses do one thing, where as Magic Leap will have "millions of apps". While we can only hope that app developers jump on board his reticence to call Magic Leap a pair of glasses is disturbing for those who hope for a glasses size form factor. Perhaps he wants to curb expectations and ensure we aren't picturing regular size glasses in our heads when we think about this product. That said, later in the interview, Wallace mimes taking off magic leap by taking off his own glasses.
"This is very real. We are not in research mode anymore."
-Brian Wallace, CMO of Magic Leaps
Now the big question, when do we get to see all this? "Soon-ish", says Abovitz once again not delivering an answer. They claim the Motorola factory they took over is currently running. They are in the stages of debugging their high volume production line this summer. At this point, Wallace who seems to be a little more practical with his verbiage, chimes in and explains that there are already external developers working with the technology and people in the office are wearing it all day for hours at a time. It sounds as if he has heard the cynicism from the tech press and wants them to know that this is very real. Hopefully, he can prove it soon by showing it more broadly to the public. Given the number of people who have seen it (thousands, they claim) it is somewhat shocking that more leaks haven't happened. The closest we get to a date is from Wallace. When asked when this will be mainstream he claims it takes about 3 years for that to happen specifically citing the 2020s as aligning with that time frame. This points to, at earliest, a 2017 release.
One last thing of note is Abovitz feeling on Google Glass. He respects them greatly for jumping in first and, while Magic Leap's products are very different, Glass was important on the road map for this technology.
In interview after interview one thing always rings clear and that is that the ambition of Magic Leap is perhaps its largest feature. Abovitz claims they are kind of like a baby Apple, while Wallace states we won't mind wearing magic leap out in the world, everyday. To me, they are clearly going after the smartphone market and whether they succeed or fail, it sure will be exciting to watch.