Augmented reality company Magic Leap has announced a second version of its headset designed to project digital objects into the real world. The company also announced that it has raised funding to the tune of $500 million. This will help it fine-tune this new augmented reality headset, in order to better compete in a sector that appears to have reached a certain level of maturity, with many robust projects.
Are augmented reality helmets and glasses coming soon to the mainstream? After Facebook announced its partnership with Ray-Ban, another AR project has now been unveiled. Not daunted by the lukewarm reception of its first headset -- the Magic Leap One -- the Magic Leap company has now announced a new version that's more in tune with its ambitions. The official release is scheduled for 2022, although some customers are already taking their first steps with these new glasses. No price details have yet been released. The company has also raised a new round of funding, obtaining $500 million of investments -- a colossal sum for a company that's on the comeback from relative failure.
This new headset is mainly intended for professional use and now has a wider field of view. Augmented reality is used to project 3D digital objects directly into the real world, as opposed to virtual reality, which takes users into an entirely digital universe.
Magic Leap's website suggests potential uses for its device, including fields such as surgery, where scans and other data could be provided in the middle of an operation.
In industry, its use can facilitate developments at manufacturing or design stages. For example, sharing different 3D models where several people can visualize and make modifications in real time. A technician could even provide remote expertise and assistance for a product.
To achieve a thinner, lighter and smaller product, the computing unit and battery are housed in an external case that is worn at belt or pocket level. According to Magic Leap's Chief Executive Officer, Peggy Johnson, the new model has the largest field of view in the industry and has a dimming function. It can therefore darken the environment to make it easier to use the glasses outdoors or in particularly bright environments.
The market for augmented reality glasses and headsets is proving highly competitive. The flagship product for now remains Google's HoloLens 2, a product used by most AR and VR companies. Facebook's glasses are also in the running, even if their success is yet to be proven. With this new project, Magic Leap cannot afford to fail. Investors could well tire of spending millions for mixed results, especially if the competition offers much more successful products.