An amazing video has been circulating since late last week claiming to show a new augmented-reality product by Magic Leap. The “cinematic reality” company raised $542 million in October from Google corporate and others to take a stab at replacing all of the world's screens with some sort of virtual reality blend. The company's latest splash started with a tweet:
The video is facinating. It shows a seamless and effortless interaction between our digital and physical lives. And since Magic Leap has tons of money to work on exactly this type of thing, it could be coming soon, right? Unfortunately, skeptics say no.
First of all, Magic Leap originally planned to present at a TED conference in Vancouver, but backed out at the last minute and posted the video online instead. The company also indicates that what you see in the video is technology that actually exists in its office, but we haven't gotten to see any hardware yet. Additionally, the video has a prominent watermark from Weta Workshop in its upper right corner. As CNET notes (in a podcast titled "That cool Magic Leap AR demo is probably fake, but we love it anyway"), Weta Workshop is known for doing special effects on projects like, oh you know, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Eric Johnson of Re/code wrote, "This is probably fake."
Similar questions came up about the video Microsoft showed when it unveiled its HoloLens augmented-reality headset in January. The difference was that Microsoft had at least showed off some hardware and let journalists demo it. So far Magic Leap hasn't announced anything tangible.
It's disappointing to watch the video and then realize that we're probably not really there yet, but at least there's progress. Don't worry, you'll be scrolling through your email in thin air before you know it.