Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The future of Magic Leap's promising AR efforts dim after layoffs

The Magic Leap Two is now further away than ever, unfortunately. Today in a blog post the augmented reality pioneer announced major layoffs and has decided to cut up to half of its workforce, according to some reports.

The original Magic Leap One was supposed to be one of the first mainstream augmented reality headsets when it launched in 2018, but a high price point and lack of interest from developers left the headset high and dry after launch.

According to the blog post, Magic Leap says it will be focusing its efforts on enterprise solutions (a statement HTC has made recently as well) and shift its focus away from consumer technology… at least for the time being.

The company has been open about creating a second headset that would offer improved specs for some time, but how that work will now have to go forward without half of the team, according to some estimates, remains to be seen.
Is the window closing on augmented reality?

Although it’s just one company, Magic Leap felt like our best bet of bringing augmented reality to the masses: its infamous teaser trailer of a whale bursting out of a school gymnasium captured imaginations – and billions of investment dollars – and remains the end-goal for what consumer AR could look like in five to ten years.

"Adapting our company to these new market realities and our increased focus on enterprise means we must align our efforts to focus on the areas of our business that advance our technology ... [and] this transformation also means that we must decrease investments in areas where the market has been slower to develop," Magic Leap explained in the blog post.

With Magic Leap taking a backseat for a few months, it now falls on the other AR hardware like the HTC Proton, Microsoft HoloLens 2 and, if it ever gets made, the Apple AR glasses to fill in the gap.

Layoffs are always unfortunate, especially ones that happen during a pandemic, but hopefully those who are affected will find work at other companies working on bringing augmented reality to the masses and continue to help make those dreams a reality.

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