By Bobby Carlton
Meta may turn to Magic Leap to stay ahead of the other players in the augmented reality market, such as Apple. According to a report by the Financial Times, Magic Leap and Meta are in talks about a multi-year manufacturing and licensing agreement. The details about the deal are not clear, but it's believed that a potential partnership won't involve the creation of a joint-developed headset.
A potential partnership between Magic Leap and Meta could give the latter access to some of the startup's optical technology. It could also allow the two companies to work together to produce Meta's devices. This would allow the US tech industry to reduce its dependence on China.
People familiar with the talks said that Meta is exploring the possibility of getting Magic Leap to license its intellectual property and produce products in North America.
Magic Leap makes custom components, which are used in the creation of metaverses. These components include the software and high-tech lenses that are required to implement the metaverse. However, the people familiar with the talks noted that the two companies aren't expected to create a joint headset.
According to two former employees of Magic Leap, the company's biggest asset is its waveguides, which is technology that enables the creation of realistic images at varying depths.
As the world waits for Apple to unveil its much-anticipated mixed reality device next month, Facebook is also keeping its eyes on the virtual and augmented reality space. Big tech groups are betting that these headsets will give them a competitive advantage over mobile devices.
Since Mark Zuckerberg started investing heavily in Meta, the company has faced increasing investor frustration. It's expected that it will take years for the project to generate profits.
The company's interest in Magic Leap comes as Facebook and other tech groups are looking to cut their dependence on China for the production of their hardware. This issue is becoming more relevant to the company as it focuses on the creation of virtual and augmented reality headsets.
Founded in 2010, Florida-based Magic Leap is one of the most prominent start-ups in the augmented reality space. It has raised over $3.5 billion in funding, which was led by some of the biggest tech groups such as Google, Alibaba, and Qualcomm.
Magic Leap explored a potential sale in 2020, but it didn't find a buyer. In 2021, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which has been a long-time investor in Magic Leap, took a controlling stake in the company.
In a blog post, Magic Leap's chief executive officer Peggy Johnson said that the company has received a lot of interest from companies in licensing its intellectual property and manufacturing processes. She noted that these companies are also looking to create products using the company's technology saying the company has "received an incredible amount of interest from across the industry to license our IP and utilize our patented manufacturing process to produce optics for others seeking to launch their own mixed-reality technology."
The Magic Leap blog post also dove into where they think the state of AR and VR is today stating that last year has seen a renewed interest in mixed reality technology. The discussions about the metaverse and the potential of new products are helping to strengthen the industry's health.
According to the post, Magic Leap feels that the metaverse has already arrived, and people are starting to experience a limited view of it due to their devices. The company's goal is to make the interaction with the metaverse more natural.
There has been a lot of talk about virtual reality and augmented reality being compared as major tech companies discuss their vision for the metaverse. However, it's important to keep in mind that these two technologies are very different.
One of the main advantages of virtual reality is its ability to allow people to build avatars and escape the physical world. However, in an enterprise environment, it's important to be present in the real world. For instance, no surgeon would use a VR headset to operate while they're in a medical setting.
"Businesses don’t have the luxury of escaping to virtual worlds. Businesses live in the real world and the truth is, the technology that delivers the most value for business today is AR."
In addition to the Meta announcement, Magic Leap has announced that they have collaborated with tech giant NVIDIA to allow companies to stream 3D content to its headsets. Through the partnership, Magic Leap 2 will be able to support the company's Omniverse platform.
The partnership will allow the company to greatly improve the processing capabilities of its headsets by integrating its modelling programs into the user interface. This is a giant step for Magic Leap as a tool to help advance digital twins for enterprise solutions.
Through the partnership, Magic Leap will be able to enhance the capabilities of its Omniverse platform by integrating various software, such as Ray Tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling. It will also be able to greatly improve the workflow of its users by integrating Autodesk Maya.
Magic Leap engineering teams pioneered key technical advancements that combine the industry-leading augmented reality (AR) capabilities of Magic Leap 2 with powerful NVIDIA RTXTM GPUs to deliver a new level of visual detail for 3D models in AR. Among the advancements are:
The increasing number of partnerships between different companies in the XR industry could help create a standard for the various technologies used in the development of Metaverse and other XR solutions.
Almost 80 percent of the world's virtual and augmented reality headset market is currently held by Meta, which makes the Meta Quest models. Despite the small number of units sold last year and the expected entry of Apple in the market, the company is still leading the way.