Magic Leap, the secretive startup responsible for the Magic Leap One augmented reality platform, has selected AT&T as its exclusive wireless distributor for U.S. consumers ahead of the device’s initial release this year. AT&T also announced today that it is investing an undisclosed amount in Magic Leap, with AT&T CEO John Donovan gaining observer rights on the AR company’s board.
Donovan hinted that the partnership will leverage AT&T’s upcoming 5G network, which is expected to light up in a dozen cities by the end of 2018.
AT&T is excited to pair our pioneering technologies, unmatched network, content platform, and vast customer ecosystem with Magic Leap’s efforts to build the next generation of computing. We’re designing and offering the future of entertainment and connectivity, and this exclusive arrangement — in combination with our 5G leadership position — will open up new opportunities and experiences.
Magic Leap has been developing an augmented reality product for years, with the goal of bringing physical and digital worlds together through wearable technology. It recently revealed that its initial product, dubbed Magic Leap One Creator Edition, will consist of a pair of lightweight glasses connected to a wearable portable computer and a wireless “Totem” controller.
The company has described its technology as “spatial computing,” rather than AR, offering small teasers of its claimed ability to superimpose realistic imagery on real-world settings. But the company’s videos have repeatedly fallen short of showing off the actual look and feel of Magic Leap content. A new demonstration video, potentially spotlighting the content, is scheduled for later today.
AT&T’s deal with Magic Leap is a vote of confidence in the platform. The cellular provider says it will leverage “Magic Leap’s focus on transformational technology and products” with its own network and stores “to usher in a new kind of contextually aware, intelligent, human-computer interactivity.” Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz explained:
We’ve joined with AT&T because we believe in a combined vision of expanding high-speed networks, edge computing, and deep integration with creative content. Coupling the strength of the evolving AT&T network with Magic Leap’s spatial computing platform can transform computing experiences for people.
The Magic Leap One Creator Edition will apparently ship this year “to qualified designers and developers,” which suggests that AT&T will not actually begin selling the device to U.S. consumers in 2018. But when consumer availability begins, AT&T says that the device will initially be offered in “select AT&T stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with more markets to follow.”