Nine months after completing a huge $542 million financing round led by Google, Magic Leap, controlled by Rony Abovitz, the son of Israeli immigrants to the US, is coming to Israel. The company, whose investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and Andreessen Horowitz, is developing advanced augmented reality technology. The company has raised a total of $600 million.
According to the Registrar of Companies, the company has offices on Abba Hillel St. in Ramat Gan, and is apparently planning to recruit local developers in order to accelerate development of its fascinating technology. Before its enormous financing round last year, the company operated mainly under the radar. Magic Leap itself is currently located in Florida, a surprising choice, given that other technology companies prefer Silicon Valley for its proximity to investors and developers.
Magic Leap released a single clip in March 2015 that has already won 2.5 million viewings on YouTube showing the company's capabilities, which are still far from commercial. The clip shows how, with a hand gesture on the physical desk, apps (such as the YouTube app) can be pasted, messages on Gmail can be scrolled, and a game can be selected from a moving menu and played within the office open space. In the game itself, a weapon can be selected for the purpose of shooting virtual images.
The extent of Magic Leap's planned research and development in Israel is not yet clear, but Google's investment in the company, whose worth is estimated at $2 billion, is certainly likely to pave the way for the search giant. Google has tried its luck in the augmented reality sector several times, the most recent attempt being through its glass spectacles. This never took off, and Google decided to suspend the project. It cannot be ruled out that Google's investment in Magic Leap is likely to mark Google's future in this area, and perhaps lead to the acquisition of the company itself.
Last month, Magic Leap announced that it would release a software development kit (SDK) in order to enable games developers, movie creators, and others to devise augmented reality experiences on the company's platform.
The company also announced last month that it was planning to use the money raised to build a 28,000-sq.m. manufacturing plant to produce the chip on which its technology is based. In contrast to existing technologies, which operate on a screen that sits on special eyeglasses, Magic Leap's chip is designed to beam light directly into the eye in order to generate a feeling of augmented reality in a way that will avoid causing headaches for users. Commenting on the new plant, Abovitz said, "We've gone past the research and development stage to a transitional stage for presenting a real product. We've decided to build our own plant, because there just aren't any parts that can help build what we want."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 19, 2015
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