Having made a major investment in spatial computing startup Magic Leap back in July, AT&T today announced its next two steps for the partnership: building a 5G network at Magic Leap’s headquarters to test next-generation headsets, and preparing a version of its over-the-top TV viewing app for the current-generation Magic Leap One.
AT&T CEO John Donovan joined Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz on stage at the L.E.A.P. developers conference to discuss the announcements. Most interestingly, the carrier said that it will build a “5G test zone” for Magic Leap at the company’s Plantation, Florida campus, giving “developers and creators the ability to test devices and applications on a 5G network right where the work is being done.” Magic Leap has said that its second-generation device, Magic Leap Two, will include 5G connectivity, and AT&T has been signed as its exclusive wireless distributor to U.S. consumers.
If the value of cellular functionality for a spatial computing platform isn’t obvious, the companies clearly have been thinking about collaborations. One example leveraging AT&T’s WarnerMedia assets could be a city-wide Batman movie, which could be experienced as Magic Leap wearers move from place to place rather than sitting passively in front of a screen. Donovan also predicted a day when kids will learn science from history’s most famous scientists, such as Einstein, and decide on their own career paths based on mixed reality experiences.
Additionally, Donovan said that AT&T will launch a beta version of its DirecTV Now app for the Magic Leap One in 2019. The new app will be able to display up to four live streams at the same time, as illustrated in the accompanying image — notably depicting a simulation of what the experience could look like. While four-screen functionality is somewhat questionable on its surface, the executives had a viable use case: Sports fans will be able to monitor multiple games at once, and conceivably avoid TV-hogging disputes at home.