Magic Leap CEO, Rony Abovitz.
Magic Leap CEO, Rony Abovitz. Image: WSJ.

Business Insider exclusively obtained and published the first photos of a Magic Leap working prototype on Saturday. CEO Rony Abovitz has since denied this is a product prototype, but journalists and the online community remain skeptical.

Magic Leap is a company dedicated to developing a wearable device that can generate and integrate digital images into the user’s viewing field in the real world. Those who have seen it in action claim it is one of the next big things in tech.

The startup has raised over $1 billion in funding from companies like Google, Alibaba, and JPMorgan, and it has been valued at almost $5 billion without ever showing what they are working on until now. Magic Leap will reportedly have a board meeting this week where it will show its first prototype.

Magic Leap prototype headset
Magic Leap prototype headset. Image: Business Insider.

CEO Rony Abovitz says the pictures only show a prototype, a very impractical one

Once the images spread online like wildfire, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz took to Twitter to put down some of the flames. The executive said the contraption seen in the photo is not the finished product by any means.

The picture shows a man wearing what seems to be a heavy vest with a computer on his back, a battery pack wired to it on his hand, and a VR headset also wired to the machine.

Abovitz claims this is just a prototype for research and development purposes, used to “understand lighting, texture, and various surfaces.” Still, its looks worry many people online about the portability of this technology.

Magic Leap prototype backpack and controller
Magic Leap prototype backpack and controller. Image: Business Insider.

Reports suggest one belt will compose the prototype Magic Leap shown at the board meeting this week with two packs: one for the battery and one for the computer. The headset will still be wired to the belt.

Magic Leap insiders have mixed feelings about the project

While you would think anyone working on this technology would be excited about it, former employees have said the company suffers from some setbacks due to its organizational culture.

Another Business Insider report suggests Magic Leap caters to VIPs and celebrities with the excuse of seeking funds, and that it is working on too many things at once without a clear focus on the main objective.

The firm intends to develop both the hardware and software required to revolutionize the industry, but finding the potential applications of the technology has prompted some divisions to start researching healthcare necessities, for example.

Since the images leaked, a couple of Magic Leap investors have come out and said people should not lose faith just yet, and that the company holds true magic in their hands.

Benedict Evans and Kyle Russell of Andreessen Horowitz backed up the claims of Rony Abovitz with a series of tweets saying the pictures prove nothing of what’s going on behind closed doors at the company’s headquarters.

“OUR FIRST PRODUCT IS COMING. OUR PEQ SYSTEMS (PRODUCTION EQUIVALENT) ARE IN BOTH HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE AGILE BUILD CYCLES. I WANT TO SHARE WITH ALL OF YOU WHAT WE ARE DOING – BUT I WANT TO DO IT WHEN WE ARE DONE,” Abovitz said in January.

Source: Business Insider

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