Magic Leap demo promises to transform offices into augmented-reality games

Folders, coffee, ray-gun? Magic Leap's sneak peek at its augmented-reality service has virtual-reality proponents buzzing.

YouTube/Magic Leap
Magic Leap debuted a clip that shows of its vision of an augmented reality future.

What if you could transform your office into a steampunk robot shoot-‘em-up video game?

That’s what mysterious, though buzzworthy, augmented-reality company Magic Leap is proposing via a surprise YouTube clip released Friday. The clip is an intriguing indication of what augmented-reality gaming could soon look like, in what is already a watershed year for the nascent technology.

The clip opens with a hand picking up Gmail and YouTube apps as if they’re staplers on a desk, and swiping, scrolling, and pinching through e-mails and videos. Those are discarded with the swipe of a hand. Up pops a spinning wheel of entertainment options, and the hand points to a video game called “Dr. Grordbort presents: Victory.” From there, the player selects a ray gun and robots pop out of the floorboards, jump out from behind desks, and even blast through the wall.

"This is a game we’re playing around the office right now (no robots were harmed in the making of this video)," says the caption below the video.

The tech world first noticed Magic Leap about a year ago, when the small, Hollywood, Fla.-based start-up garnered big money from a huge tech name. After finishing a $50-million round of funding last February, in October, Google sunk $542 million in the company.

The company doesn’t have a product on the market just yet, but keeps the tech world intrigued with its whimsical creations and ambiguous identity. Employees of the company have described their work as creating “cinematic reality.” The website describes the company as “an idea.”

“An idea that computing should be shaped and forged to work for us: our life, our physiology, our connected relationships. That exploring human creativity is as great an adventure as exploring space,” reads the “about us” section of its website. “It's an idea based in the belief that people should not have to choose between technology or safety, technology or privacy, the virtual world or the real world.”

Sounds like a manifesto of virtual-reality enthusiasts.

So far, however, it isn’t even clear what Magic Leap’s actual product is. All we know about the company is that it got a lot of funding, can make an elephant fly out of your hand, and now turn your office into an indie video game. The company was supposed to present at the TED conference, but had to cancel for undisclosed reasons (this video was supposed to be debuted during its presentation).

But mystery may not be its case for long. In the “Wizards Wanted” section of its website, Magic Leap has a lengthy list of positions open, many of which seem to advertise a need for combining computer learning and biology skills. If they can get the talent that can connect the two, this hyper-reality could be actual reality in the near future.

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