The current work will describe and analyze the work of Magic Leap. It develops augmented reality technologies that create mixed reality by means of combination of virtual and real lives of users. This unusual startup was launched in 2011, and till nowadays it is working for the creation of a totally realistic 3D viewing experience (Motor Intelligence, 2016). The company is focused on the creation of the technology that would enable to see the outside real world with the virtual elements that would be “projected from a light source at the edge of the glass” and reflected in the eyes of the users “by the beam-splitting nano-ridges” (Yang, 2016) on the eye’s retina (Stein, 2015). This will be performed through some kind of lightweight device that would be put on the user’s head and would contain a small projector for sending a “dynamic digitized light field signal” (Flaherty, 2015). These signals would create neurological effects similar to the effects of the real-life objects perceived by people (Stein, 2015).
At the current moment, the company declared patents are the virtual reality headset (the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 2015), glasses with fiber optic projectors, totems (bracelets, keys, and controllers) with the access to social media, haptic gloves, virtual interfaces, and screens, etc. (Wilson, 2015). The creation of these patents became possible after the creation of Dynamic Digitalised Lightfield Signal. It images projects to the retina of the human eye (Edwards, 2016). This is realized by using a combination of hardware, software, sensors, core processors, and innovative technologies (Edwards, 2016). The company also introduced its hardware Photonics Chip. It is a “light-field chip that relies on silicon photonics” (Bourzac, 2015).
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The development of such technologies requires huge investments. This company obtains financing from Google (about $ 542 million), Legendary Pictures (Hoddinott, 2014), Morgan Investment, Fidelity Management and Research, Alibaba (Spangler, 2016), Obvious Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers (Motor Intelligence, 2016). These companies invest in the creation of unique solutions in the USA (Dania Beach (Florida) (Stein, 2015), Santa Cruz and Mountain View (California), Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin (Spangler, 2016)) and overseas (in the UK, Israel, and New Zealand) (Spangler, 2016).
SWOT for Magic Leap
This section of the work will depict strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the described company. To begin with, the major strength of Magic Leap is that it creates mixed reality that combines the virtual creatures with the real life. It has numerous benefits compared with virtual reality. The first and the most obvious one is that it adds elements to the real world instead of taking the user out of the world completely (Yang, 2016). That means that unlike virtual reality, which is fully immersive, augmented reality is only partly immersive (Merel, 2015).
The user can regulate the extent of virtualization of his life from adding a little figure to his workplace up to changing his room. These changes do not depend on age, race, religion, social status, level of the education, or engagement of the user. The technologies introduced by Magic Leap can be used for the great variety of tasks: gaming, going in for sports, development of new technologies and improvement of the existing ones, working in social media, studying, etc. (Merel, 2015). Users can apply it for work, communication, entertainment, and rest. This technology can be adapted for e-commerce, web-browsing, streaming of movies, voice calls, painting, etc. (Merel, 2015). This adaptation is performed through affecting the human eye (retina) by the Dynamic Digitalised Lightfield Signal, but it still adapts to it, and the user does not feel any inconvenience (Yang, 2016). This is also granted by the ability to move around and focus on both virtual and real things without moving the head (Stein, 2015).
Another strength of mixed reality created by Magic Leap is the absence of screen door effect that appears from “a visible grid pixels” during the use of virtual reality solutions (Yang, 2016). The company offers smooth and in the same time incredible realistic virtual images on any dimension of space, i.e. vertical and horizontal. In any subspace the user would be able to open the screen and use it for connection or even replacement of a phone or computer. Thus, this device can lead to the further increase in the presence of the Internet in people’s lives. Additional attention should be paid to the fact that the new device would have its own operational system. That is why the privacy of actions of the users could be totally protected, which cannot be granted by any virtual reality devices (Yang, 2016).
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As it was mentioned above, the company’s offices are located in different countries all over the world. This enables to use knowledge, experience, and talents of different professionals who live in various territories for the development of unique technological solutions.
Even though there are a great number of strengths, the company and its developments have also several weaknesses. It tries to create innovative solutions which implementation requires availability of high quality materials, software and hardware that cannot be gained or created at the current moment. Thus, the development and introduction of innovative solutions can be retarded. In addition, attention should be paid to the fact that the developed technologies are not vital for the human life. As it was mentioned above, their major application is entertainment, communication, gaming, and facilitating day-to-day activities. Lack of utmost urgency in the creation of the discussed technologies can lay aside their realization.
In this section emphasis should also be made on the existence of similar technologies, which also enable users to enter virtual and mixed realities. Such global giants as Facebook, HTC, Sony, Samsung, OSVR, Fove, Microsoft, and Meta are developing virtual reality devices (Yang, 2016). Some users (especially gamers) may find these devices more attractive than equipment that enables using mixed reality solutions because of their full and realistic immersion (Merel, 2015). The major competitor of mixed reality device is HoloLens developed by Microsoft (Stein, 2015). It also creates 3D effects in the users’ environment. The design of this device has been already presented to the wide audience. At the same time, there is still no precise information about the design, hardware, software, or even the platform of the Magic Leaps’ solution (Malik, 2016). However, unlike technologies developed by Magic Leap, the Microsoft’s devices are limited “to a narrow field of view in front” of users’ eyes (Stein, 2015).
Like other companies that work on the development of virtual and mixed reality devices, Magic Leap can face such challenges as insufficient creative, manufacturing or marketing experience, which may endanger the existence and popularity of the described devices. The failure of this project may damage the reputation and cause enormous financial losses to the company and its major investors.
The above mentioned strengths form the background for several opportunities. The devices developed by Magic Leap provide both direct and indirect view on the real world and physical environment. They combine real world with high quality visualization of different sizes and complexities. These solutions can be used for a great variety of purposes in different spheres of human lives. Moreover, they may replace current technologies, like computers, and form a technological background for the future life of the humanity based on the expanding and improvement of the role of the Internet in the lives of people.
Moreover, the current experience of Magic Leap showed that it can use the knowledge of specialists from different countries. The company may improve this ability and make the network of offices more diversified and use virtual teams for the development of its technological solutions. This would enable obtaining a unique view and promote the development of mixed reality devices.
As it was mentioned above, the development of Magic Leap’ solutions attracted big investors and significant funds. The company may use its influence and financing for the acquisition or merger with other companies or projects that work in the fields connected with virtual and mixed realities for the designation of new technologies and improvement of its current operations.
The last opportunity is the absence of a strong and undisputed leader in the virtual and mixed reality spheres. This creates an ability to achieve a leading position in these markets.
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Magic Leap also has several threats that may endanger its further development. As it was mentioned above, the introduced solutions may require high-quality materials, software, and hardware that may not be created or obtained yet. Thus, the company’s projects may be unreal in the nearest future. Moreover, even being developed and introduced to a wide audience, the company’s devices may face misunderstanding and misperception from common people because of the lack of their usefulness. Thus, high-cost projects may remain non-demanded. Additional attention should be paid to the fact that similar solutions are simultaneously developed by various companies. Their projects may be more successful and attractive than the devices presented by Magic Leap. Furthermore, the introduction of similar products to the market may cause sharp competition and even price wars.
The current work describes Magic Leap and its current projects. The company is working on the development of mixed reality solutions that would add high-quality 3D images to the users’ real life by projecting light sources on their eye retina. Notwithstanding the fact that at present several companies are also working on the creation of virtual and mixed-reality devices, Magic Leap offers technologies with unique solutions such as projecting the light and high-quality 3D images. These solutions can be used in various fields in the future: gaming, communication in social media, e-commerce, studying, development of complicated technological projects, and office work. They may serve as additional devices to phones and computers or totally replace them. As per the personal understanding, the major issues lie in the complexity of devices (and composed materials), the high possibility of sharp competition, and uselessness. Thus, to my mind, the company should focus its efforts on creating truly innovative devices that would add real value to final users. This can be reached by narrowing the sphere of their application or by developing several devices for different purposes. For example, separate technologies for gaming and the development of industrial projects. This approach would enable us to focus on separate directions and offer more attractive solutions for different types of potential customers. Moreover, the differentiation of final products would reduce the possibility of failure for the company.