Magic Leap, an augmented reality company shrouded in mystery, just announced today a raise of $542 million led by Google.
Little is known about the company or product, but here’s what we do know:
Founded in 2011, Magic Leap is a company that says its technology is all about ideas. “It’s an idea based in the belief that people should not have to choose between technology or safety, technology or privacy, the virtual world or the real world,” the company website reads. Its website, by the way, is full of surreal images of submarines and whales superimposed on real-life scenes.
The company’s goal is to create augmented reality in a way that blends the world in which we live with 3D images rather than through a headset, like Oculus Rift, that submerses the viewer in an alternate reality. In terms of an actual product, Magic Leap has developed digital lightfield technology, which the company says mimics biological processes to help the brain make sense of the images in front of it. Magic Leap says its technology projects 3-D images, or “light sculptures,” onto a viewer’s retina, according to an article in the New York Times.
The technology also accounts for the viewer’s surroundings using an infrared camera, so the projected light object can appear to go in front of and behind things in the viewer’s world, say Recode‘s sources.
There’s some talk that Magic Leap’s immersive cinematic technology will manifest as a wearable device. With Google as an investor, the technology could be ripe for integration with Google Glass. But that may not be the big plan, though Google no doubt will be supplying resources to Magic Leap.
Still, these are just snippets of information; it’s impossible to tell how far along Magic Leap’s product really is. And the Magic Leap team is still building. The company recently opened an office in Palo Alto, Calif., because it was unable to draw talent down to its headquarters in Hollywood, Fla., Recode reported.
Founder Rony Abovitz has a background in biomedical engineering. Prior to Magic Leap he founded a company called Mako, which built robots for orthopedic surgery. In December 2013, the company was acquired by Stryker Corp for $1.65 billion.
Today’s raise is Magic Leap’s second this year. In February, it snagged $50 million. Investors in today’s round include Google, as mentioned, Qualcomm Ventures, Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, and Obvious Ventures.
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