Not to be left behind by Facebook, Google is also getting into virtual reality.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based search and advertising giant is leading what could wind up being a half-billion-dollar round in Magic Leap, according to a report in Re/code. The site said that Andreessen Horowitz could also be investing in the giant round.
What Magic Leap does is not entirely clear yet, but it appears to be a highly realistic form of virtual reality or augmented reality. The company calls it “Cinematic Reality,” with a trademark symbol. The splash screen on its website shows a very photorealistic, tiny, animated elephant moving around in a person’s cupped palms.
Facebook dropped $2 billion acquiring the relatively mature (but still unreleased) Oculus earlier this year. Oculus makes a virtual reality headset that is aimed primarily at gamers, but might have relevance to future computer and mobile interfaces. Oculus headsets don’t let you see the world around you, however.
For its part, Google already has a virtual reality bet with its Google Glass, which superimposes information on the periphery of your vision. According to Re/code, Magic Leap will probably superimpose high-resolution images — perhaps via special glasses of its own — directly in front of your field of view, with the ability to adjust the depth of field. The Re/code report cites “industry sources” and seems somewhat conjectural, however — and notes that Magic Leap, Google, and Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to requests for comment.
Magic Leap, which is based in Dania Beach, Florida, raised “more than $50 million” in a Series A round in February, 2014, according to its website. The company did not state who its investors were in the previous round. The founder and chief executive is Rony Abovitz, who previously created a surgical robotics company called Mako Surgical, which Stryker acquired for $1.65 billion late last year.