Google, Qualcomm lead augmented reality start-up investment

Tiny augmented reality elephant on the Magic Leap homepage.

Stealth mode augmented reality start-up project Magic Leap claims to have raised $542 million in Series B financing. Google and Qualcomm led the round of financing, indicating that both businesses see significant potential in the product to help drive more commercial uptake of augmented reality inspired technology.

Other investors include film makers Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and Obvious Ventures among others.

As a part of Google’s investment into Magic Leap, Senior Vice President of Android and Chrome, Sundar Picha, will join the board of directors. “We are looking forward to Magic Leap’s next stage of growth, and to seeing how it will shape the future of visual computing,” he said.

Rony Abovitz, who is Magic Leap’s President, CEO and founder, claims the company are working to advance beyond augmented and virtual reality and change the way in which humans and the world interact.

“We are excited and honoured to have such an extraordinary group of investors to help us bring our vision and products to the world,” he said. “Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”

Detailed information of Magic Leap’s product range is scarce and its cool but rather fluffy website doesn’t give anything away. Recode suggested that its flagship product operates in smart glasses and overlays virtual imaging directly onto the user’s eyeball, so as to create greater depth and authenticity for the user. Such a concept is far removed from conventional augmented or virtual reality hardware and software, which traditionally involves sizeable hardware in order to operate.

Writing on the company’s blog, Abovitz explains his vision for radically adjusting how humans learn, be entertained, communicate and more.

“Computing can feel like every day magic, and it can feel much more human, much more like our world. Our mission is to deliver on this dream, so that people can benefit in new ways from the power of computing, from the possibilities of being connected, sharing, and knowing.”

Investment from both Google and Qualcomm indicates at potential for the product in future iterations of Google Glass, or other wearable technology. As the internet of things continues to boom, and new forms of communications begin to be investigated, such an initiative could be a vision of where the future of comms lies. Augmented reality video-calling, anyone?

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