Florida-based augmented-reality startup Magic Leap has generated $542 million in a Series B financing round, and Google’s contribution is at the head of the pack. Tech giant Qualcomm is also pitching in, along with many others including Legendary Entertainment, Vulcan Capital and Obvious Ventures.
The company, founded in 2011, hopes to replace traditional smartphone screens with virtual-reality interfaces. Magic Leap founder, CEO and president Rony Abovitz promises he can deliver mind-blowing “cinematic reality” and “revolutionize” the way people communicate, but this round of funding was raised without unveiling a single product.
Magic Leap has remained tight lipped about its products, but the company’s website features images of a baby elephant cupped in a person’s hand, and a submarine floating above a street. Speculation suggests the company plans to develop a wearable device which tracks users’ eyeballs and projects images onto them. A technique called “object occlusion”, paired with the manipulation of depth perception, would allow for virtual objects to be added to what the wearer would see naturally, both in front of and behind objects.
Google itself, rather than Google Ventures or Google Capital, is behind the investment, sparking rumors the internet company may be hoping to align or eventually partner with Magic Leap. Google has appointed Sudar Pichai (senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps) and Don Harrison (vice president of corporate development) to Magic Leap’s board in an observer role as part of the deal.