You need to stop comparing the Magic Leap One to concept videos from over 3 years ago

Magic Leap is wildly ambitions and secretive. This is incredibly annoying. Their vision is grand but they won’t tell us what they are actually doing. This engenders a feeling of negativity. It makes us feel like they are in a secret club and they won’t invite us in. It makes us feel like they think they are better than us. That they have a secret Magic power and we can’t have it. It brings out our feelings of entitlement. It stretches our patients to a breaking point. It makes us want them to fail. It makes us look at that vision and say “No, you can’t do that”. 

I get it. I get that feeling. I feel it too.

But it is fundamentally a negative emotion that you should try to overcome.

Magic Leap is wildly ambitions and secretive. This is incredibly annoying. Their vision is grand but they won’t tell us what they are actually doing. This engenders a feeling of negativity. It makes us feel like they are in a secret club and they won’t invite us in. It makes us feel like they think they are better than us. That they have a secret Magic power and we can’t have it. It brings out our feelings of entitlement. It stretches our patience to a breaking point. It makes us want them to fail. It makes us look at that vision and say “No, you can’t do that”. 

I get it. I get that feeling. I feel it too.

But it is fundamentally a negative emotion that you should try to overcome. It comes from a feeling of being left out. It comes from impatience. Feelings of jealousy. Feelings of entitlement. And it grows. It evolves from the initial feelings into a solid belief that needs to be fed with more justification. It spirals until nothing that the company does could possibly be good because at this point it would prove that you are wrong and we humans fight this idea of being wrong tooth and nail. We lose sight of where this all began. We lose sight of the scale at which we should react. We lose the fact that the company is just ambitious and secretive and may have bitten off more than they can chew and instead think that they have personally slighted us or attacked us and are therefore irredeemable. 

This isn’t only true for Magic Leap. You see it happening to almost any unproven entity that is trying something ambitious. Oculus got it in the early days. Elon Musk is in the middle of it now. It is very common. 

Magic Leap showed off another developer sample last week. It was a “Hello World/Teapot” style sample that shows off some basic interactions that developers can learn from. As well as releasing the sample, they walked through some video of the sample in action. This video, that is not intended to show off the full power of the device, was a lightning rod for the feelings described above.

This has fed the spiral of negative rationalisation. Folks see it as an indication that they were indeed right to dismiss and insult Magic Leap as a whole for being secretive and, it seems, for releasing concept videos that are over 3 years old and in some whale jumping cases almost 5 years old. This feeling has long memories. 

Companies make concept videos. This is a common practice. There is nothing wrong with that. It shows the vision and ambition of the company. In many cases, it is used for hiring. They can attract the top talent that wants to be working on the problems that need to be solved to hit that vision.

Have a look at the zelda announcement video for example. This video shows a level of graphic fidelity far beyond the product that was released. The video was published years before they had a finished product. It was to show what they wanted to build. Zelda was an unmitigated success. Nintendo was able to build a concept video, not hit the target of the concept video and still be considered one of the best games ever released.

 So, I think if you are sitting behind that keyboard right now and you are mad at this company. You need to let it go. Those concept videos were released over 3 years ago by a start-up that is still trying to find its feet. Perhaps they shouldn’t have published those videos but to continue to indict this company for 3 year old mistakes is unreasonable. They have since released many videos to help properly guide expectations. At some point you have to consider the idea that you are using these concept videos to rationalise the feeling of dismissiveness you have towards Magic Leap and not the other way around. 

Let go of your negative feelings and just embrace the fact this company is try to build something cool. They might fail catastrophically. In fact, that is the most likely outcome. That isn’t an insightful point. It is the obvious point. So be bold and stand up for the underdog.

6 thoughts on “You need to stop comparing the Magic Leap One to concept videos from over 3 years ago”

  1. I think I’d be a lot less disappointed if they hadn’t received 2 billion dollars in venture capital to do this. That’s more than pretty much any other venture out there. Hell, even SpaceX hasn’t raised that much, and they’re going to space for fark’s sake! https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/space-exploration-technologies

    There are companies operating on far smaller budgets doing similarly cool things. That Magic Leap have (and theoretically are spending) this much money, and yet the resulting device (granted v1) is nearly $3000, and showing such mediocre results, is genuinely disappointing. It’s not because I feel left out of the club, it’s because what they’ve created is not very impressive given their resources.

    Or perhaps, if anything, the disconnect here is the idea that large amounts of money thrown at any given problem will inevitably solve it better and/or faster than anyone else. I’ll gladly cop to falling for that fallacy…

    1. Which smaller companies are those? The only other company doing similar things that I can see is microsoft with hololens who have likely sunk that much and more into their project. I’d be happy to hear about others.

      Perhaps you are only looking at hardware? There are other companies that have built a headset but have very little around the dev environment and OS. Some just have android apps which is obviously never going to work. Magic Leap have built a bespoke OS. They have a shockingly well documented and thought out developer environment. They built their own browser. These things take as much capital (if not more) than the hardware. Not to say hardware isn’t challenging and Magic Leap doing their own manufacturing is a crazy thing that very few others are doing but it is only part of the puzzle.

      I’m shocked they were able to build what they have built with so little money. I would have assumed only an Apple, Google, Microsoft of Facebook could do something like this. You know these companies would have sunk billions in to a project like this and they have already spent a lot of the upfront cost of getting a company going. In fact, Magic Leap are certainly going to need more money to make this into a consumer product.

      I don’t know… I see where you are coming from but I think perhaps you aren’t taking the whole picture into account. They are trying to build consumer hardware for a entirely new compute paradigm from scratch with absolutely no revenue. That is crazy and it probably isn’t going to work. But saying they have a lot of money… They don’t have enough money.

  2. I don’t agree with you. They did a lot to craft their image based upon deceptive practices, e.g. creating promotional videos that lead the viewer to believing these were produced by the product they were creating, to paying publishers and having lay people to describe their experience in nebulous terms.

    As others have said, a great deal of money went their way to what amounts to a slight improvement over technology created two years ago while I have watched companies with great ideals go the wayside because funding is drying up due the huge promises with little ROI from companies like MagicLeap.

    Also, you are entitled to your own opinion and mental state, but telling others to modify their is a little pretentious.

  3. They used faked videos and lied about it. Remember "fighting robots in the office?" "A real game that we are playing right now". A blatant lie. They could have called a "conceptual video". But no, they called: A real game that we are playing right now. And, after some time, they erased that.

  4. And don’t forget the: "Video shot from behind the glasses" tag that they used to put in the fake video. The whale is a conceptual video. But the games, demos and interfaces they put on youtube, all of them claimed to be real by Magic leap. And all of them were pre-rendered conceptual videos. Doing conceptual videos is not wrong. What is wrong is doing conceptual videos and liyng about it.

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