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Published: 23 Oct 2014

AR Start-Up Raises $542m

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Magic Leap

Secretive visual display start-up Magic Leap announced this week that it has raised more than $542m in a new round of funding from tech giants including Google and chipmaker Qualcomm.

Little is known about the US-based company, which aims to "develop and commercialise... the most natural and human-friendly wearable computing interface in the world", according to its founder Rony Abovitz.

No product details have been released, although the company has said it is working on a new kind of augmented reality, which it describes as "cinematic reality". According to reports, this could take the form of augmented reality smart glasses that project 3D images onto users' eyeballs.

"Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality," Abovitz said in a statement. "We are transcending all three, and will revolutionise the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play."

Google's head of Android, Sundar Pichai, and Don Harrison, Google's corporate development vice-president, will join the Magic Leap board as part of the deal – a sign of how important this investment is to Google. Other investors include movie company Legendary Pictures and US-based venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Magic Leap is focused on making technology that feels natural and intuitive to use – a key challenge for many companies working in the augmented and virtual reality space, where cumbersome technology is often needed to create fully immersive experiences. It presents a challenge to technology such as Oculus Rift – the virtual reality headset bought by Facebook earlier this year for $2bn.

For the latest advances in hybrid realities and intuitive interfaces, read Beyond Wearables, part of our Post-Digital Macro Trend.

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