What is the mysterious Magic Leap?

Magic Leap, which promises a breakthrough in augmented reality, is tight with details but has lots of major players backing it.

Story highlights

  • Mysterious Magic Leap plans "magical" augmented reality
  • Florida startup reportedly got $500 million from Google and others
  • Wearable device being built by "software ninjas," "computing hobbits"
It may have more than a half-billion dollars in the bank and the backing of tech titans like Google, as well as the investors with some of Silicon Valley's deepest pockets.
You've probably never heard of Magic Leap, a startup so secretive they're not even telling the public who is on their team. But they're promising to change the world -- or at least how we experience it.
What's clear is that Magic Leap is working on augmented-reality technology. And they're claiming that the product they're keeping tightly under wraps will trump anything that's been offered by existing companies like Oculus, the virtual-reality company Facebook bought this year for $2 billion.
Magic Leap is making "what we believe will be the most natural and human-friendly wearable computing interface in the world," said CEO Rony Abovitz in a written release from February, when the company secured $50 million in investments.
Now, Google and other major tech investors are preparing to pour $500 million into the Florida-based company, according to tech blog Recode.
"What is remarkable is how well the human body and mind respond when technology respects biology, so truly magical experiences become possible," Abovitz said. "Our technology exists to unlock the creative spark found in all of us."
Hands on with Oculus Rift
Hands on with Oculus Rift

    JUST WATCHED

    Hands on with Oculus Rift

MUST WATCH

Hands on with Oculus Rift 02:34
Spurlock: This is so like 'The Matrix'
Spurlock: This is so like 'The Matrix'

    JUST WATCHED

    Spurlock: This is so like 'The Matrix'

MUST WATCH

Spurlock: This is so like 'The Matrix' 01:18
Glasses make you a real-life Tony Stark
Glasses make you a real-life Tony Stark

    JUST WATCHED

    Glasses make you a real-life Tony Stark

MUST WATCH

Glasses make you a real-life Tony Stark 01:33
Not surprisingly, a company spokesman declined the opportunity to comment for this story.
Abovitz was the co-founder of MAKO Surgical, a company that made a robotic arm that can be used to perform orthopedic surgery. That company sold for a cool $1.65 billion in December.
But, as staffing at Magic Leap goes, we don't know much more.
On the website's "Team" page, where most startups brag about the experience and talent of their employees, Magic Leap lists no names, just offbeat titles like "artificial intelligence gurus," "software ninjas" and "computing hobbits."
Those who have gotten a peak behind the curtain, though, are impressed.
"What Rony and the Magic Leap team have created is nothing short of remarkable and will forever change the way we interact with images and information," a member of the startup's board of directors and co-founder of special-effects and props company Weta Workshop.
Visitors to Magic Leap's website are greeted by a high-definition, point-of-view video that shows a tiny elephant appear to stand in the user's hand before leaping into the air and floating.
In July, the New York Times reported that one tool Magic Leap is using is called a "digital light field." The technology is more complex than existing augmented-reality tools and would create, in effect, 3D light sculptures before the user's eyes.
Based on its website, Magic Leap appears to have trademarked the term "Cinematic Reality" for its technology.
With Google reportedly investing so heavily, it's not hard to imagine Magic Leap being paired with Google Glass, the tech giant's entry in the wearable tech field that could hit the market as early as this year.