Magic Leap has been keeping us in the dark about their augmented reality headsets for quite some time now. CEO Rony Abovitz was recently on stage at the Code Media conference, where he kind of let the cat out of the bag. The Florida-based firm is hoping to launch its goggles, handheld controller and CD-player-sized wearable computer sometime this year, and it’ll come in a range of sizes to suit heads large and small. There will also be a mid-range Magic Leap One for creators. What will this cost? According to Abovitz, for the lower end model, you’re going to pay what you would for a high-end tablet or phone.
That is kind of cryptic, don’t you think? An iPhone X will cost you around $1,000. But a Surface tablet, for example, ranges from $800 – $1500, so which is it? I’m not necessarily complaining about the price, but I think that what he’s saying is extremely subjective. When we talk about augmented reality glasses or that kind of technology in general, people want to know what they can do with it. Apple did a good job of explaining their idea of AR through their ARKit. But when glasses (or goggles) start emerging on the scene, we can’t really figure out what they will do for us.
But Magic Leap has a pretty interesting way for you to use their goggles. They have teamed up with the NBA to create a way to watch basketball games using augmented reality. To start, you’re going to be able to watch classic NBA games or highlights from the ongoing series through the headset. The downside? Live games won’t be available at first. The NBA is on board with this, but it sounds like the technology just isn’t quite there yet.
What do we know? The headset will come in multiple sizes. Presumably to ensure that it works for anyone who wants to wear it. We also know it’s coming out “sometime” this year, but when that will be is anybody’s guess. Ok, so when I said what do we know, I guess I should have prefaced that with – we don’t know much. As I mentioned earlier, we also don’t know how much it’s going to cost. Some speculate around the $1,000 mark – and that’s fair, but Abovitz isn’t really giving that kind of specific number. The biggest question I have is whether or not people are going to use these?
My initial thought with AR, in general, is that people would find it beneficial. I was thinking about it from the perspective that people can get additional information that they need when they need it. The example I always give is someone walking down the street trying to locate a coffee shop (or some kind of restaurant). Instead of pulling up a map on your phone and typing in “coffee shop”, you could do all of this through your AR glasses. Better yet, this kind of information could be given to you as you walk down the street – pointing out specific points of interest along your route. But in this case, is it overkill? Are there that many NBA fans who are going to use the goggles to watch games? Maybe, maybe not. I think these need to be available for public consumption before we can make a stronger assessment.