Florida-based startup Magic Leap is a company focused on building augmented reality (AR) smart glasses. It was at the center of a very controversial discussion after an article on ‘The Information,’ published last Thursday, claimed that their augmented reality demo videos were false.
Allegations of this had already surfaced after they posted the introductory demo video on YouTube in 2015. The seemingly perfect AR environment depicted in the short sample clip drew suspicion from most online sources, which claimed that no AR-related company had gotten that far.
This week, the article from ‘The Information’ revealed that Magic Leap had in fact not recorded the video using their AR technology but that the demo was a montage perpetrated by a third-party special effects company.
Former employees at Magic Leap allegedly confirmed the hoax
Two Magic Leap workers, now unaffiliated with the company, apparently confirmed to the online newspaper that the video was the work of New Zealand FX studio Weta Workshop which is famous, among other things, for working in the ‘Lord of The Rings’ movies.
The employees added that the company was trying to intentionally mislead viewers into believing that their smart glasses could create those AR environments and that they were probably overselling their abilities.
Magic Leap’s now infamous demo is still on their YouTube channel under the name ‘Just another day in the office at Magic Leap,’ and has garnered a modest three and half million views, considering their latest scandal.
The video shows an office worker playing an immersive and very detailed AR game
In the video, the Magic Leap wearer first showcases a couple of everyday apps (YouTube and Gmail), before engaging in an augmented reality first person shooter game against a horde of hostile robots.
In the end, the Weta Workshop logo appears along with Magic Leap’s, which has prompted many critics to note that were not trying to hide this fact. Besides, there is no indication by the company in the video description that the demo had to do with their technology, something clearly stated in following videos.
Magic Leap’s demo video is currently at the center of mixed opinions from tech enthusiasts, with some of them disregarding their work and others praising their confirmed achievements in AR. Both sides of the story appear in ‘The Information’s piece.
Magic Leap’s CEO responds to the scandal with indirect tweets
On Thursday night, Rony Abovitz (ML’s CEO and founder) took to Twitter to express his discomfort over the journalistic piece, albeit doing so in a non-confrontational way.
He remarked that the tech startup world was “hard and intense” but also that “it takes a different breed of awesome to strap yourself into a rocket.” Later on, he added that everyone in the general public (both detractors and fans of Magic Leap) would be able to try on their technology when it launches in the future.
Magic Leap has a current value of approximately $4.5 billion. Primary investors include Google, the Alibaba Group, and Andreessen Horowitz, famous for being one of the first companies to invest on Facebook.
Source: International Business Times