At the eMerge Americas investors conference in Miami, Florida, Magic Leap founder and CEO Rony Abovitz previewed details of the launch of their highly-anticipated device.
In a question and answer session moderated by Matt Haggman, program director at Knight Foundation, Abovitz revealed that manufacturing of production units is underway at their facility on the former Motorola campus in South Florida.
While Abovitz stated that the launch "is not far away," he stressed that the inventory still has to pass hardware and software quality checks and other tests for operational readiness. He stopped short of revealing a price, though he noted that it is "being priced for affordability in the mass premium category."
Abovitz reiterated that the company is slowly opening access to developers and creators. He expects that Magic Leap will continue to increase access over the summer.
"We really want to make sure we're learning how to serve developers and creators properly first before we continue to open the access. But it's up and running and live, and we're supporting all kinds of cool engines as well as our own software development environment," said Abovitz. "I'll stand by what I wrote: 2017 is going to be a really big year."
During the thirty-minute conversation, Abovitz provided insight for the audience, comprised of investors and entrepreneurs, of Magic Leap's mission in bringing what he calls "spatial computing in a digital light field" to the marketplace that is clamoring for virtual and augmented reality. While he is happy that VR and AR are whetting the public's appetite for new forms of computing, Abovitz believes Magic Leap is in another category altogether.
I think what we're doing is a new class of computing; you can think of it as spatial and ambient, where it is contextually aware, you can be hands-free, you're not holding up a phone looking through a video display; it's a totally different kind of experience...We're trying to build a computer and really force that computer to act like people act, and understand your world without having to tell it all the time, so we're pushing a really different, interesting direction.
Abovitz expects the device to appeal to creators, sharing that many of those approaching the company for early access include artists, filmmakers, and musicians, as well as companies, startups, and developers.
"I think embracing a wider creative community is really what we're all about. I think we're building a computer completely for creativity and creative expression, which is less than what you'd think about for a computer that just did spreadsheets. It's a whole different model and the idea that if you're a creator and you sink your teeth into what we're building, a lot of ideas that you have that you might, you want to express in film or music or some other medium, it seems to be a really wonderful medium for that creative of expression," said Abovitz.
While Magic Leap is reported to be seeking another round of funding, Abovitz dismissed the process as no big deal.
"It's an on-going process, almost like breathing," said Abovitz. "You want to constantly talk to investors to know you've got more dry powder for that expansion if things are going well."
Abovitz shared that Magic Leap would launch in the US first, but that it does plan to expand to other countries at a measured pace.
"We're looking at our first time out as learning how to swim. You want to swim no faster than you should be," said Abovitz. "We're like the kid going into the pool with the floaties, learning how to swim carefully, but as soon as we're feeling confident with developers and creators and consumers and all the engines are working well, we're just going to go faster and faster to the deep end."