News: Magic Leap Acquires Augmented Reality Telepresence Startup Mimesys

Magic Leap Acquires Augmented Reality Telepresence Startup Mimesys

Just months after we previewed the augmented reality, volumetric video conferencing powers of Mimesys, the company has undergone a major change — it's now a part of Magic Leap.

On Thursday, Magic Leap announced the acquisition of the Belgium-based startup that allows Magic Leap One users to engage in real-time telepresence conference calls using volumetrically captured avatars representing their real bodies.

"As we expand the spatial computing ecosystem, integrating a best in class communication and collaboration solution helps us to further fulfill the promise of the next computing platform," said Omar Khan, Magic Leap's chief product officer, in a statement.

"The spatial co-presence platform the Mimesys team has created is remarkable and we are thrilled to have them as part of our team. We look forward to further expansion of co-presence and collaboration tools on the Magic Leap platform."

Those who follow Magic Leap already know that the company offers an augmented reality app called Avatar Chat that gives users the ability to hold virtual meetings. However, Avatar Chat uses simplified 3D avatars that give the app more of a game-like feel rather than something designed for serious meetings.

What Mimesys does is take the kind of virtual meeting dynamic Spatial has been working on, which uses 3D avatars that look like you, and ramps it up by volumetrically capturing real imagery of the user to give the virtual conference an even more realistic feel.

A scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Image via Marvel Studios

Historically, when talking about this kind of solution, people have frequently referenced that old Star Wars moment when Princess Leia delivers a holographic message via R2D2.

But with spatial computing, that's no longer as relevant. A better cinematic metaphor to use would be the scene in the 2014 Marvel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which Robert Redford meets with a room full of holographically represented council members situated around the room. During the scene, each member maintains eye contact with Redford, indicating spatial awareness in the fictional holographic system.

What Mimesys is working on is bringing that kind of Hollywood sci-fi meeting into reality via the Magic Leap One.

"Concepts of communication imagined in science-fiction in the past 30 years are becoming now technically possible," said Remi Rousseau, the CEO of Mimesys, in a statement.

"We had the chance to work with Magic Leap spatial technology early on, were impressed by their technology and excited by the possibilities of co-presence on the platform. We are thrilled to be joining the Magic Leap family and to integrate the co-presence technologies into their spatial computing platform."

Neither company has disclosed the terms of the Magic Leap deal, but the startup has a fairly small team, and its seed round of funding was reported as $1 million back in 2016, so this deal isn't likely to make a huge dent in Magic Leap's multi-billion dollar funding arsenal.

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Cover image via Mimesys

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