We may not know what Magic Leap's product looks like. And we haven't received even a "save the date" for its launch. But we know that it will display mixed reality comics from Madefire when whatever it is arrives.
Announced as part of the Future of Comics in New Realities panel at New York Comic-Con this past weekend, Madefire will adapt its Motion Book format to a mixed reality experience exclusively for Magic Leap.
For the uninitiated, Madefire's immersive storytelling format enables comics publishers, including the recently-added powerhouse Marvel, to inject their titles with visual and audio effects that elevate the content beyond words and images, but stopping short of full animation.
Madefire will further enhance this experience by taking advantage of Magic Leap's lightfield, computer vision, and spatial audio technology. Story panels will float in front of readers, and they will be able to peer inside those panels and observe the action from various perspectives.
"Our goal is to be where the myths of the 21st century are created and we've built a creator-first platform to enable anyone to create a Motion Book and tell their story," said Ben Wolstenholme, CEO of Madefire, in a statement. "Magic Leap is developing the ultimate stage for storytelling – with the same belief in the power of stories and creators. We couldn't be more thrilled to bring the Madefire approach to Magic Leap and a library of new and exciting stories to Mixed Reality."
As with its existing platform, Madefire will provide software tools for publishers to adapt their stories to the mixed reality format without the need for extensive engineering or development experience.
When we met at NYCC in 2012, it immediately struck me that Madefire was running a parallel path to Magic Leap – both companies were born out of the desire to tell stories. Conversations over the last five years have evolved into a true partnership, and a commitment to develop with Madefire to create new Mixed Reality experiences open to everyone.
That wasn't the only new story that Magic Leap had to tell from its newly-redesigned website. The company released part one of a video series that promises to tell the company's whole story. Titled "How It All Began," the video consists of a vignette of employees, based in locations across the globe,
At least one reporter expressed his disdain for the video because he couldn't figure out what Magic Leap does based on the video. While that is a valid criticism, it is also a fairly myopic conclusion to reach. I watched the video and understood its intent as more of a recruiting tool than anything, particularly when you consider that their careers page is packed with job openings.
Magic Leap is operating from a different playbook, which has exposed a sense of entitlement among observers. We live in a world where product leaks are expected.
For instance, once upon a time, Apple was as secretive as Magic Leap regarding their unreleased products; nowadays, their iPhone launches are more or less spoiled weeks in advance through various leaks. On the other hand, you have the example of Google. By revealing Glass too soon and essentially selling a device in public beta, they have been viewed as a spectacular failure.
Magic Leap does not have the track record of Apple or Google, and perhaps they have not yet earned the benefit of the doubt. And you can only tease people so much before they get annoyed.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the company, they don't owe the general public or the media anything at this point. (Investors might be another story.) I'm as eager as the next person to see what Magic Leap has up its sleeves, but I'm not about to cry "vaporware" either. At least not yet.