Tech

Magic Leap CEO says immersive AR for consumers is ‘five or so’


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Magic Leap 2 has received rave reviews for being perhaps the best augmented reality headset available today. CEO Peggy Johnson said there’s still work to be done to turn such devices into something consumers will want to use.

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According to Peggy Johnson, chief executive officer of Magic Leap, a pioneering maker of AR devices, a possible market for consumers to use augmented reality, where simulated images are overlaid on a vision of an augmented reality device. people about the world, like with goggles. .

“If I had to guess, I think, maybe, five years or so, for the kind of fully immersive augmented reality that we do,” Johnson said last week in a live Q&A forum. on Zoom organized by the organization group[i] Forecastan online interactive discussion series hosted by Collective[i]advertises itself as “an AI platform designed to optimize B2B sales.”

Magic Leap, the company that pioneered the development of glasses that allow users to see objects displayed in their field of vision, excited the tech world in 2018 with introductory videos and billions of dollars. is the funding this company received from Google.

But the first version of the product, released that year, was impressive. CNET called the $2,295 headset the best AR device to that point, but also lamented “significant downside to Magic Leap’s AR hardware.”

Johnson, who joined the job in August 2020 after years at Microsoft and before that, chip giant Qualcomm, has redirected Magic Leap from being primarily a consumer feel in the first headset. That first, a very different focus is on selling to business users — “the most compelling augmented reality headset for business,” in the company’s terminology.

Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson

“The other important thing that will happen over time is that the same thing will happen in mobile phones, which integrate silicon,” said Johnson, a trained engineer. “That allows you to have a device that is very small, light and very energy efficient. And we are still on that trajectory.”

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The company released a second version of the headphones in September, and the new device, which costs almost a thousand dollars, $3,200 more, could be Order online from many stores. But the focus is on building business use of the product through partnerships and agency channels.

The second version of Magic Leap joins a crowded market for enterprise AR as well as XR, including devices that combine AR with VR. Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the most prominent, but also glasses from Vuzix and Lenovoand Google’s Glass Enterprise 2.

Magic Leap 2 has received a positive initial response. CNET’s Scott Stein, who was critical in 2018, wrote in March of this year that the improvements with the second version are meaningful and are generally “a small but important step for a company that, like many others, is aiming to solve the AR glasses puzzle.”

Final product early reviewer, Devindra Hardawar, wrote last month that the second version is “an important achievement”, adding that it is “easier to wear, more powerful, and offers a significantly larger (and higher) AR field of view than any other headset we’ve ever seen.” I’ve seen it before” and “it’s easier for developers to work with, thanks to the new Android-based operating system.”

However, much more fundamental technical progress is needed to achieve a consumer-friendly device, Johnson said.

“I think what is needed is an ultralight device,” she said. “I think it needs to look like glass.”

Johnson said:

Magic Leap 2.0 has gone far in being lighter, it’s about 20% lighter, it’s half the size, so we’ve really tightened the stats, which is very useful for both days for someone in an industrial setting or even a doctor during the course of a career. long surgery. As for walking around, though, I think the device isn’t quite something a consumer will use all day. I think we really need to be in that category of glasses.

Magic Leap wearers test fire in AR

Magic Leap has been reoriented for enterprise use cases. Here, a group visualizes a wildfire scene with images of terrain and statistics overlaid on their view of the world.

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To create such a compact device went into the limits of current electronics, especially batteries:

It’s hard to get that size. Battery is a limitation. The processor itself — currently, we have a separate processor from the headset; that’s how we made the headset so light it can hang on your belt or pocket. It’s a bit heavier, it can get warm because it’s the processor. We just don’t think it’s wise to integrate it into a headset right now. It’s not comfortable. There are others on the market that have done it, and that’s the biggest complaint: it’s bulky, it’s hot, it’s heavy. And so we have to deal with all of that to get these things out to consumers.

Johnson, a trained engineer, said the path to further silicon integration in chips would help:

The other important thing that will happen over time is that the same thing will happen in mobile phones, which integrate silicon. Our mobile CPU used to have a lot of components and it used to be bigger. And my old company, Qualcomm, put more and more features into that chip. That allows you to have a very small, light and very energy efficient device. And we’re still going down that trajectory.

There are already a number of devices on the market, Johnson said, “it’s more of a display.”

Those kinds of devices, while not as immersive as the Magic Leap, “could solve an anesthesiologist’s problem — for example, I just want to see my vital signs right in front of my eyes,” she said.

Also: 4 best AR glasses: Pro-grade AR and XR headsets

“It’s really easy to do, it’s just putting a small screen in front of your line of sight and not blocking anything else. That’s possible these days.”

“But for that fully immersive AR experience to actually be a consumer tool, I think it’s going to be a few more years, maybe five years or so,” Johnson reiterated.

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