Famed “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson believes that the mobile phone has found its match: Jackson recently told Wired Magazine that augmented reality technologies like the ones developed by Florida-based Magic Leap will be used “as much as, if not more ” than smart phones in ten years.
Magic Leap is one of a number of companies working on augmented reality technology capable of combining images of the real world with virtual objects. The startup has been highly secretive about its technology, but that hasn’t stopped high-profile investors like Google, Alibaba and Warner Bros. from pouring more than $1.4 billion in financing in the company.
Magic Leap did unveil a new video demonstration of its technology Tuesday, complete with virtual screens that could theoretically replace a phone or even a desktop PC.
Jackson’s embrace of Magic Leap shouldn’t come as a surprise; the director is serving on an advisory panel for the company, and his new Zealand-based visual effects company Weta Digital is on tape to producing content for Magic Leap.
What’s interesting is that Jackson is not only giving augmented reality, which he calls mixed reality, the potential to replace the mobile phone, he also strongly aims to separate it from virtual reality. “I find mixed reality much more exciting than VR,” he told Wired. “Mixed reality doesn’t take you out of this world. Instead it adds elements to our real world.”
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It’s true, augmented reality is very different from virtual reality. VR headsets like the Oculus Rift completely take over your field of view and replace it with a screen. Magic Leap and other headsets let you still see the rest of the world, which could enable a lot of very different applications.
But virtual reality is also much further developed. The Rift is actually available to consumers, as are competing devices from HTC and Samsung. There’s no word on when the Magic Leap headset will ship — in fact, the company hasn’t even ever publicly presented a prototype. In other words: It still has a lot of catch-up to do to replace the phone within a decade.