In Brief
  • Now with just under $800 million in funding, Florida startup Magic Leap has applied for a patent for its VR/AR headsets, bringing them one step closer to market.
  • From healthcare to the military, VR/AR is being applied to industries far beyond its humble roots in gaming.

Leaping out of Development

Florida-based startup Magic Leap has been getting considerable attention thanks in no small part to the awesome-looking augmented reality video demos it has released. Apart from these videos and the info we could glean from some interviews and Twitter posts, however, we haven’t yet been given a complete explanation of what the company has in store for consumers. What we do know is that it promises an AR experience unlike any other by delivering “neurologically true visual perception.” In short, the brain won’t be able to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality when you are using Magic Leap’s device.

This week, we came one step closer to finding out just what that device is as the company applied for a design patent at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for “Virtual or augmented reality headsets having adjustable interpupillary distance.” (Interpupillary distance is the distance between a person’s pupils, and it is important in order for AR/VR headsets to send correctly positioned imagery to each eye.) The patent also showed a device that looks sleeker than previous versions.

Last Saturday, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz tweeted: “We just achieved a number of major product dev milestones.” Whether those milestones are included in the patent dated October 18 or are altogether new developments, Magic Leap obviously has something in the works that is impressive enough to entice tech giants like Google, Qualcomm, and China’s Alibaba group to invest a total of $793.5 million dollars in the project.

AR/VR Is Getting Real

There’s no doubt that AR/VR technology is transforming how we interact with reality. From its earliest gaming applications, the technology has branched out into a number of fields, including neurosurgery and art, and it has even been used as a recruitment tool for the US Navy.

The technology is getting better at approximating reality, even allowing us to feel objects in the virtual world. It still has a lot of room for improvement, obviously, but VR/AR tech has undoubtedly already begun to change what it means to live in the “real world.” Magic Leap’s device could blur the line between VR and reality even further or, perhaps, make it disappear altogether.