An NBA Star Says Magic Leap’s AR Device Will Disrupt Your Life

Enter Magic Leap

If you haven’t heard of Magic Leap, it’s probably not your fault, the company might just want it that way. The Florida-based augmented reality (AR) company, which has raised over $1 billion from backers like Google, has been very reluctant to release any information about their future product. But NBA star Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors might have just narrowly missed violating the non-disclosure agreement he signed with Magic Leap by talking about the company’s progress.

But first, what exactly is Magic Leap trying to accomplish? Similar to the Microsoft Hololens, Magic Leap is working hard to bring mixed reality into consumer markets. The company promises an AR experience unlike any other by delivering “neurologically true visual perception,” through a headset that overlays the game graphics on top of the real world.

The game designers are working to make sure there is transition so seamless that your brain won’t be able to tell the difference between artificial reality and reality when you’re using Magic Leap’s device. Other than the rumors and the public company patent, not much is known about the device’s capabilities — that is, until now.

Secrets Revealed?

Iguodala’s remarks to CNET gave us a glimpse at what secrets Magic Leap’s upcoming device might have in store for consumers:

  • The interface is controlled by eye movements that modulate items in a user’s environment (turning off lights, adjusting the temperature in your home).
  • Characters can appear on your arms at will when you stick them out.
  • The device has a digital assistant similar to Apple’s Siri.
  • The device will be far smaller than the competing devices.
  • The device might come with a belt pack that stores the computing power and battery for the glasses.

You might be wondering why an NBA all-star knows so much about Magic Leap’s upcoming product. It’s because Magic Leap is “interested in doing some stuff with sports,” as Iguodala put it. The device is intended to disrupt life and change everything, so you can’t help but be excited with each new piece of information that comes out, especially since it feels more like Magic Leap contraband than a news update.

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Humans and Technology Are Becoming One, and It’s Changing Everything

Mental and Sensory Trickery

As machine learning produces virtual reality that feels more real than ever, the divide separating “human” and “machine” is shrinking. We are teaching AI to beat us at our own games, and it’s proving to be a limitlessly powerful student. The world in which the phrases “seeing is believing” and “show me” mean something is receding in the rearview mirror rapidly, giving way to a reality where you can’t always trust your sensory data. Which — like any other data — can be hacked or faked. Though, in this case it could be at your own direction — and to your advantage.

The human brain evolved to keep us safe in a world of predatory animals, deep, unnavigable waters, high cliffs, and sharp edges. Optimization for survival and reproduction of our genes demanded accurate sensory input, and generations of reliance on that data led to hard-wired fears that feel as real as anything we experience. Something moving fast at the periphery of your field of vision startles; the sight of a sheer drop opening into yawning space causes the heart to pound. Danger! Avoid, survive.

Now, we have learned that we can work, learn, and play at our highest levels by tricking our minds into perceiving what isn’t there. Like a wizened mentor, turning the lessons inward to the self, we shape the lesson and provide the interpretation for our own brains, translated into unmistakable sensory data. In other words, we provide ourselves with learning opportunities that are based in sensory experiences.

Smart sensory devices are changing the depth to which we experience virtual reality. Oculus earbuds, for example, along with acoustic filtration apps like H_ _ r provide a sense of true immersion in a virtual environment — something that’s only been recently made possible. It’s also possible now to smell things without a nose, thanks to advancements in “artificial olfaction” technology produced by companies like eNose. We can taste things that aren’t there and even “send” them to each other online for tasting. If these artificial sensory experiences were to work in tandem, we might not be able to tell the difference between virtuality and the real thing beyond actually telling ourselves what is real and what isn’t.

In fact, virtual experiences may soon provide more sensory data than we can get by any conventional means; an even more “realistic” experience than reality. This would be even more powerful, as TechCrunch points out, with the help of chemical stimulation strengthening the synapses that cement our memories.

The irony of relying on our brains to remind ourselves of what’s real—precisely because we know we won’t be able to trust whatever data our brains themselves come up with—is itself amusing. One of our most fascinating cyborg moments of the coming years may be the merging of technologies with the human body in the pursuit of more realistic virtual experiences.

Our Virtual Future: The Virtual Reality Headsets of Today and Tomorrow
Click to View Full Infographic

Opening Up New Worlds

The implications of the abilities we’ve developed to trick our brains are more than amusing. They are changing the way we learn, work, and relate to each other as well, not to mention motivating us to learn how to recapture neuroplasticity and use it to our advantage. The quest for the perfect virtual experience is opening up new worlds for anyone who’d like to experience them.

Right now it’s possible to drive through sandcastles or map enemy territory. We are using VR to learn and teach, taking trips through museums, and learning how human organs work. VR is changing the way we work, too: easing pain for patients and allowing developers to prototype apps. Even porn is going virtual — because if we’re going to take work to the next level, play is definitely coming with it.

All of these things would be little more than novelties if our technologies were not so adept at tricking our sense. Thanks to better tech and improved sensory swindling, though, each of these virtual applications holds deeper meaning for us as a species.

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Witness the Remarkable Evolution of Animation in Video Games

We all love video games. Whether it’s a classic game like Mario Party or a mobile game like candy crush saga, everyone has their pick of the litter. But while video games provide us with a fun, light-hearted medium to escape our everyday lives, the industry itself is a behemoth. Just last year, the gaming industry made $91 billion in revenue from mobile, retail, and free-to-play games.

The industry itself is evolving with new innovations. From virtual reality so convincing that you might just vomit to AI interfaces that make computer opponents ruthless, we’re just beginning to realize the potential of gaming. But did anyone truly imagine the capacity for growth that we’ve seen in the gaming industry today, just 40 years after it all began?

Pong — 1972

While there were other “video games” before pong, they weren’t commercialized like the grandfather of all games. Atari’s arcade legend featured a two-dimensional, graphical representation of table tennis, with which players used paddles to hit the ball back and forth until someone scored. The arcade version of Pong was so successful that Bushnell, Atari’s developer, pushed for a home console that could connect to the television, marking the beginning of what was to come.

Donkey Kong — 1981

Nintendo’s Donkey Kong brought something new to the table. While the giant ape took the role of the villain, the main character was at the time known as Jumpman — but we would recognize him today to be the one and only, Mario. The birth of Mario and the immersive gameplay set the precedent for future games.

Doom — 1993

Doom provided an entirely different experience for users. The graphical interface offered immersive three-dimensional gameplay while also inspiring many other first-person shooter games after it. The science-fiction horror game is considered to be one of the most influential games in history.

Halo: Combat Evolved — 2001

Microsoft’s Halo is almost like a rite of passage for gamers today. The multiplayer, military science fiction, first-person shooter is universally praised for it’s mastery of gameplay and graphics and continues to captivates users even today.

Final Fantasy XIII — 2009

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series is known to blow fans’ minds with its graphical interface. Final Fantasy is a role-playing video game that allows players to roam in an open world, battle enemies, and customize their own characters. The progress in photo-realistic facial effects is prominent in the video game series.

The Witcher 3 — 2015

The action role-playing game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, gave us far more depth than just great graphics. The characters in the game spoke volumes just by nuances in their gestures. The body language of the characters often told part of the story, and players were only able to pick up on the atmosphere of the conversation once they paid close attention to the details packed in with the impressive graphics.

Brookhaven Experiment — 2016

When you combine impressive graphics with horror virtual reality (VR) games, you get The Brookhaven Experiment. The game is terrifying on its own, but VR survival horror game might just make you wet your pants as it pushes us into a new generation of video game graphics that surround us.

Magic Leap — 2017?

This augmented reality (AR) video game promises to mix reality with — you guessed it — magic! The game makers claim to be developing a head-mounted device virtual retinal display that overlays the game’s graphics onto the real world, but they have been experiencing delays for years. We don’t know when Magic Leap will finally be available to the public, but its demos have some gamers excited to try it.

Our progress in developing video game animations is astounding, so much so that it helped bolster billionaire Elon Musk, owner of Tesla, Solar City, and SpaceX, in his claim that we’re living in a simulation. The overwhelming progress in photo-realistic effects in such a short timespan makes you ponder what humans will be able to develop in the years ahead.

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