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Is This The Decline Of Augmented Reality Innovator Pioneer Magic?

Making huge promises to bring in considerable investment from Legendary and Warner Bros., the brand’s benchmark product has failed to impress.

AR startup Magic Leap which garnered significant attention in 2014, had made great promises regarding a revolutionary platform to combine the real and synthetic worlds. AR objects interact with real-world elements, unlike fully-generated VR environments. Hollywood fell for the promise, which indicated a future where users move around with the company’s headsets and perform IP interactions in a cutting-edge manner.

Notable investors of Magic Leap include entertainment stalwarts like Warner Bros., Legendary, and Management 360. They pumped in $2.4 billion to drive up the company’s valuation to $6 billion. The investors were quite excited by this news since the early 2000s 3D filmmaking days. Peter Jackson became an adviser and previously reputed CEO Thomas Tull who also personally invested, regarded Magic Leap’s venture as unbelievable and revolutionary.

Tull may have been right as Magic Leap’s claims were truly ambitious but would take time to achieve. But unmet deadlines, excess hype, leaked images of unimpressive prototypes and an initially disappointing headset indicated that Hollywood might have made a bad investment in the company. 

Magic Leap gathered filmmakers and app makers during early October, on the occasion of the very first L.E.A.P. developers meet, in downtown LA. This event was the brand’s first opportunity of selling its rendition of AR to content creators. Instead, CEO Rony Abovitz was pointless and unclear in stating plans for creating a spatial computing world.

Abovitz, currently 47, has created a reputation as an implausible prophet in Hollywood. He is a biomedical engineer whose first company had created technology to enable better surgical implantation with robotic arms. In 2013 the idea sold for a sum of $1.65 billion. A source who had met Abovitz described him as being wide-eyed, with an unsuitable background. The source elaborated that Abovitz was a quality promoter, but expressed concern regarding the company’s vision regarding the product environment.

Abovitz could afford to be naive when he entered Hollywood for financial gains, as VR was the talk of the town. The scenario also became so, drawing in creators, after the 2014 acquisition of VR headset manufacturer Oculus by Facebook for $2 billion. Abovitz simultaneously promised higher innovation than VR. A source who was familiar to Legendary investment stated this development seemed like a money grab to him. He compared it to the hype generated during the initial phases of Google Glass, explaining that bandwagoner approach of many parties.

There were no considerable efforts on the part of Magic Leap to eliminate the hype. Instead, it was always secretive regarding development. The company even required visitors to take a trip to its Florida HQ for signing draconian NDAs to even get a closer look. Various content creators hesitated to reveal anything they had observed during the visit to the Miami headquarters of the company, which is home to a large chunk of the company’s 1500 strong workforce.

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