Half a decade of augmented reality stagnation – TechCrunch

Hello readers, and welcome back A week in review!

Last week I talked about the future of this newsletter and what’s to come. In short, in the coming weeks, I will be wrapping up my time composing A week in review Newsletter When I start sending a brand new newsletter to TechCrunch called chain reaction Focused exclusively on cryptocurrency, web3 and metaverse – with all their silliness and excitement.

The interesting element is that this weekly newsletter will be accompanied by a weekly podcast, which I will be sharing some details about shortly.

I’m sending it right now A week in review to hundreds of thousands of subscribers (and you’ll all continue to receive it while passing the baton to my colleague Greg Kombarak who will take over.) chain reaction It starts from square one, so it means a lot if you pre-subscribe to our newsletter so that it arrives in your inbox on the first day. You can do this on TechCrunch Newsletter page. Excuse!

Now that my cringe is away, you still have a few more weeks left, so let’s talk about this week’s update. Remember Magic Leap? I tried the new, unreleased headset and spoke with the CEO about the startup’s wild ride so far. So, let’s talk about that.


the big thing

This week, I spent an hour or so playing with the unreleased next-gen Magic Leap headset, all the while discussing the augmented reality company’s wild ride with Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson and other members of their executive team. Ultimately, Magic Leap is well on its way to delivering a very cool device, but despite this, the broader industry has openly stagnated in the nearly five years since the company unveiled its first device that has yet to feel the opportunity for augmented reality. more distant.

Few startups have so radically humiliated companies as augmented-reality goggle maker Magic Leap in recent years. It’s a story that has slowed the progress of an industry — promoted as the inevitable successor to mobile phones — to a crawl.

The Florida startup has badly raised billions in venture capital funding on the promise of bringing a new tech future to consumers, far more impactful than the iPhone launch. When it finally launched its first product after years of delay, secrecy, and hype, tech watchers balked at a device that failed to make many of the claims made by eccentric startup founder Ronnie Apovitz and instead made vastly increased gains over rival Microsoft HoloLens revealed Years ago. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey described the device as a “tragic pile” and device sales have plummeted – the information said the company sold just 6000 of the devices in the six months since its long-awaited launch.

“[Magic Leap’s previous marketing strategies] It was incredible to bring so much attention to the company and the field itself, and he wasn’t great at setting realistic expectations,” Magic Leap Marketing Director Daniel Diez told us.

A ridiculous launch was followed by a near-disastrous financial ruin for the quick-spending company that was forced to lay off half of the company’s staff in April 2020 and left begging for funding for the bridge that it had raised at a massive discount reportedly to avoid. Close. Following the move, Abovitz stepped down and ex-Microsoft CEO Peggy Johnson was brought in to turn the company around and abandon consumers’ near-term ambitions in favor of a less attractive venture.

“When I came, I had to reset our focus and rebuild credibility,” Johnson told me.

After 18 months on the job amid a seemingly endless global pandemic, Johnson brought me in to show you what the company has been working on: the new Magic Leap 2 headphone.

I spent about 20 minutes with the new headset which consisted of significantly lighter weight glasses (248g vs 316g of the ML1), a remote control input device (with a new optical tracking system) and a fairly heavy belt-wearing computational package that houses the brains the device. The main feature of the device is the expanded field of view which now roughly doubles the visible area inside the glasses where digital content can be viewed. It’s an impressive achievement and makes the headset a clear improvement over its predecessor.

The device is still in development and it’s clear that they’ve been trying out some new software features that will hopefully be more refined when the device ships sometime this summer. Overall, I was impressed with what I honestly feel is the best augmented reality device coming soon on the market. But while it’s making some big gains over competing devices like the HoloLens 2, it’s also still clear that even if this is the first iteration, it won’t live up to the expectations set by Magic Leap executives for the initial device and product category.

I’ve spent a very long time covering the AR/VR market and have written dozens of stories specifically about Magic Leap over the years with perhaps a thousand more stories in the broader AR/VR industry. What is clear to me is that the AR industry has now been parked in public for years. The development of AR on smartphones has been a rather complete failure and has put dozens of startups off the ground. The future for enterprise usage doesn’t look particularly bright for me either because there are so few hardware players powering so few headphones that there isn’t much of a software development scene any longer than in 2018 or 2019.

“In the space we’re after…it’s really just us and Microsoft,” Johnson admits.

With Microsoft facing problems with its multi-billion dollar military contract, and reports suggesting it may be losing interest in launching a new version of the HoloLens, Magic Leap is clearly in a reclusive position. On the consumer side, there is a lot to be optimistic about, as both Facebook and Apple have reportedly set their sights on a consumer version of the mixed reality device. But with Apple inches close to releasing the rumored headphone to consumers, Magic Leap chief technology officer Julie Larson Green appears skeptical of what they might release.

“We’ll see what they do,” Larson Green told me. “I still don’t understand what consumer scenarios get you out of games that are such a small and content niche… What are those scenarios? Sure for me, they aren’t media spectacles, and I don’t need more things to distract me. But I’m excited to see what Apple thinks it.


Adam Mosseri of TechCrunch Disrupt

Other things

Here are some stories this week that I think you should take a closer look at:

Russia says it will ban Instagram
This has been a busy week when it comes to companies that have benefited from the wave of special market sanctions against Russia. While a lot of big tech platforms aim to reduce the presence of Russian state media on their platforms, Russia has taken aim particularly at shutting down Facebook’s Meta and announcing this week its intention to shut down access to Instagram in the country as well.

Biden issues executive order on cryptocurrency
Biden’s long-awaited executive order on cryptocurrency was released this week and the crypto industry breathed a sigh of relief. The Employers’ Organization has largely pushed government agencies to begin researching the implications of crypto and how the government must balance protecting investors and ensuring the United States remains a center for crypto innovation.

Everything Apple announced this week
Apple unveiled a handful of products this week, including a new, ultra-fast Mac desktop computer and an upgraded iPhone SE. Moreover, Apple snuck in a lot of simple advertisements at its “Peek Performance” event.


Non-fungible golden icon under a magnifying glass with a computer network circle.

Image credits: Mustafa Al-Haqqi (Opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Added things

Some of my favorite reads from this week’s TechCrunch+ subscription service:

Are we entering into an NFT decline?
“The health of the NFT market is itself a great data project. The historical volatility of the price of digital currencies and other blockchain-based assets is high, which means that you may be tricked into calling the trend early, only for the markets to reverse and make you look ridiculous. In the cryptocurrency world, it makes sense not to Never say never. However, we are satisfied with highlighting a number of data points that indicate that the NFT market is slowing along a number of axes, indicating, at least, that growth in the hot sector has stalled…”

How to calculate your startup’s TAM
“…when you present your market size data to investors, they will be looking for TAM, SAM, and SOM information. These data points contain a conundrum about numbers that can seem overwhelming and out of the reach of everyone, but if you approach market size in an accurate way methodical, you will realize that it is not really complicated…

6 tech experts detail how the lack of code changes software development
“… mass adoption is still pending, however: many organizations prefer to build from scratch, and complete end-to-end solutions are still nowhere to be found. To take a more in-depth look at the technical aspects of the space, we decided to talk to some of the technologists who are starting a revolution No symbol/low symbol…”


Thanks for reading!