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Google leads major investment in Magic Leap, creator of ‘jaw-dropping’ AR tech

A team of deep-pocketed investors led by Google is funding augmented-reality startup Magic Leap to the tune of $542 million.

The arrangement, which also includes contributions from, for example, chipmaker Qualcomm and film production company Legendary Pictures, is reportedly one of the biggest venture capital deals to date.

Bold claims

In a release announcing the latest investment, Magic Leap CEO and founder Rony Abovitz made the bold claim that his company’s technology will “revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”

While detailed information on the company’s work is rather thin on the ground, it is known to be developing technology similar in some ways to Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, though the hardware is thought to be much smaller and lighter in weight.

Super-realistic 3D experience

Abovitz revealed back in February that his team is working on what he says will be “the most natural and human-friendly wearable computing interface in the world,” offering users a super-realistic 3D experience that helps to blend virtual objects much more effectively with the real world in a way that’s not possible with technology currently on the market.

‘It’s jaw-dropping’

Legendary Pictures chief Thomas Tull told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that you really have to try Magic Leap’s technology to fully understand it.

“It was incredibly natural and almost jarring,” Tull said, adding, “You’re in the room, and there’s a dragon flying around, it’s jaw-dropping and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face.”

Abovitz dismisses ‘virtual reality’ and ‘augmented reality’ as “old terms,” preferring to describe his company’s technology as “cinematic reality.”

“They have legacy behind them,” Abovitz said earlier this year. “They are associated with things that didn’t necessarily deliver on a promise or live up to expectations.”

Related: Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar gets the Oculus Rift treatment

With Google moving ahead with its development of Glass, it seems perfectly plausible that the Web giant could at some point incorporate some of Magic Leap’s technology into its own face-based computer.

As for Magic Leap, it said it’ll be using its newly acquired funds to accelerate product development and commercialize its technology, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we find out precisely what it’s been working on.

The startup, which was founded in 2011, has been attracting increasing interest from Silicon Valley firms as well as Hollywood studios, with its latest cash injection following another funding round earlier this year that brought it $50 million.

[Image: Magic Leap]