Image: Magic Leap
A new AR headset
Famous unicorn Magic Leap is preparing a new augmented reality headset for early 2022. Unlike the company’s original headset (which promised a huge consumer experience—and failed to deliver) the ML2 will take a more sober approach and cater to enterprise users. It will also be half the size, 20% lighter, and double the field of view.
Earlier this month, CEO Peggy Johnson gave an interview to Protocol about the ML2, how the company is working to “reset,” and the lessons she learned during 25+ years at Qualcomm and Microsoft.
Here are a few highlights.
Consumer AR hardware isn’t ready
Johnson argues that one of Magic Leap’s big mistakes was focusing on consumers before AR was truly ready. Today’s headsets, she says, are a lot like early wireless phones: too big and expensive for the average buyer. They’re “still getting there,” she says. “They’re not quite ready for consumers, but they’re perfect for enterprise.”
A new focus on enterprise
Magic Leap also paid too little attention to the needs of their business customers, Johnson says. And they ended up making a one-size-fits-all tool that fit nobody very well.
“With enterprise,” she notes, “you need to understand how to fit into their workflow, not to introduce a new technology and assume that they can adapt it. That has been a major focus since I took over. A very strong focus on not just our enterprise customers, but their needs and the ecosystems around them.”
One way the company is working to address this problem is by building a stronger product ecosystem ahead of the new headset. They are also looking to build their dev community and software vendor community.
Fixing the content problem
In the interview, Johnson says Magic Leap made one more big mistake: They tried to create all of the content themselves, “a major undertaking” that failed.
Under Johnson, the company will move to “rely on the content that’s in the industry and help port it to the platform.” To that end, they have announced that the ML1 is now supported by Microsoft’s MRTK (Mixed Reality Toolkit). This means users can build applications in MRTK and add support for Magic Leap devices.
For more on Magic Leap’s course correction, check out the interview here. Johnson speaks on the historical lessons we can apply to AR, the technology’s current applications in healthcare, and losing the $22 billion military contract the company lost to her former employer Microsoft.