Magic Leap, the stealthy Florida-based company that has so impressed investors with its augmented reality demos that they’ve ponied up $1.4 billion to date, is beefing up its efforts to create content. The company has established a development lab on the Lucasfilm campus in San Francisco, located, Venture Beat reported, close to the Yoda fountain.
Last week, Magic Leap founder and CEO Rony Abovitz announced a partnership with Lucasfilm to develop Star Wars-related apps for Magic Leap. They’ll be using what the company calls its “Mixed Reality Lightfield” technology, the details of which are still under wraps. That project will clearly be happening in the San Francisco Lab. But the company isn’t betting that Star Wars games alone will be enough to make the technology take off. It plans to draw all sorts of developers into its San Francisco lab to work on applications for the new augmented reality technology.
Magic Leap may have some serious competition for augmented reality developers; with Pokemon Go capturing the imagination of gamers all over the world, it turns out that the AR explosion didn’t wait for Magic Leap to reveal its technology. AR games can be engaging even if you have to hold a phone up in front of you to peek into an AR world. Pokemon Go could be great news for Magic Leap, in the sense that it’s getting players used to AR technology and whetting their appetites for an AR interface that they don’t have to hold out in front of them. Or it could be a challenge: Can Magic Leap create compelling enough content to justify purchasing an expensive new device.
To support the developers it attracts, Magic Leap is in the process of hiring a team to work with those developers. Its job listings on LinkedIn currently include a number of posts that will be part of its “advanced content research group in San Francisco.” These include software engineers, infrastructure engineer, interaction engineer, and technical director. Some of these positions also are listed on the company’s internal hiring site.
No word yet as to how Magic Leap will reach out to developers for this lab, though it has made a few forays into the development community, for example, through a contest at Twilio’s Signal developer conference. Perhaps it could set out a Pokemon Go lure.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 30 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.