It turns out the awe-inspiringvideo Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip.
Magic Leap’s post — titled “Just another day in the office at Magic Leap” — claims the video shows a game being played around the office.
In the fashion industry, designers show pieces on the runway that “were never intended for real-world production, but that’s made clear,” observed Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“There’s a difference between fact and being transparent that the [Magic Leap] video was meant to be aspirational,” she told TechNewsWorld.
However, there’s a precedent, suggested Enderle. Steve Jobs “fooled a lot of very smart people doing similar things, first with NeXT and then with the iPhone, which was basically a pretty brick when he first showed it.”
Big Name Boosters
Magic Leap has raised US$1.4 billion in funding without anyone seeing its technology. Investors include Google and Andreessen Horowitz.
Google’s Sundar Pichai and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson sit on its board, and Magic Leap has signed a deal with LucasFilm.
Why were companies with strong technical expertise attracted to Magic Leap?
“The people at the top who do the deals are often under pressure to do the deal before the required amount of due diligence can occur,” said Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University.
“I doubt that the most senior people even personally had the time or the skills to do the due diligence needed,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“The question is whether [Magic Leap] can get more money to complete their offering now that some of their investors believe that they were cheated,” Enderle remarked. Companies “rarely recover from something like this.”
Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook’s Oculus currently lead the augmented reality market, and it’s not clear whether Magic Leap can catch up.
On the other hand, the tech market “is quick to forgive if you can deliver something that’s truly transformational,” noted Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
“If Magic Leap can develop a compelling game that has at least some of the advertised functionality,” he told TechNewsWorld, “they could still be successful.”