I remember being a little girl a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when sometimes I would imagine Star Wars ships flying around me in midair. They look so real, but they all lived inside my imagination. Magic Leap is going to make it a reality, a mixed reality where the ships will exist for everyone to see. I know so because I met a wizard, and he told me to have faith.
I met Graeme Devine, Chief Game Wizard from Magic Leap, at the Games for Change Festival in New York City. I have been following the bits of news and videos from Magic Leap, and this was an opportunity to meet somebody who is making the magic happen.
What is Mixed Reality?
After a brief introduction in a soft-spoken voice, he quickly posed a question: Do people know what Mixed Reality is? There are only a few projects working on the idea of experiencing the world in Mixed Reality, but the one that is most secretive and most talked about is Magic Leap. And so he proceeded by sharing some of the ways he thinks about Mixed Reality and how he hopes Magic Leap is about to change the world.
Here is his take on it:
Mixed Reality is a mixture of the real world and the virtual worlds so that one understands the other. This creates experiences that can not possibly happen anywhere else.
He went on to provide some more context on how Mixed Reality differs in regards to existing technologies:
In Virtual Really you put a headset and you are taken to some place else . . . Augmented Reality does not really understand the world you in , it overlays on top of that, but does not really interact with the world directly . . . . Mixed Reality understands and interacts with the world directly.
This makes things a lot more exciting, and Magic Leap’s project a lot more complicated.
Magic Leap Wizards and Photons
By now, you are probably asking yourself who is Graeme Devine. He has been making video games for more than 30 years across multiple platforms, technologies, and major titles. At the age of 16, he worked at Atari (lucky kid). Graeme played a major role in the development of Pole Position, The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, Quake III Arena, Doom 3, and Halo Wars. He also worked for Apple, where his role was to ensure that games worked on iOS devices. At Magic Leap, he is the Chief Creative Officer and Senior VP of games, apps, and creative experiences.
His talk at Games for Change focused on the future of Mixed Reality. In the immediate horizon of the next two years, he suggested that we would likely see Mixed reality devices come to market. However, our mobile devices will continue to exist alongside them. More change is expected to take place in the next five years when there will be a 50/50 split of advanced mobile devices and Mixed Reality devices in the hands of users. The world will likely wholly change in about ten years when the majority of us will have a Mixed Reality device. And this is where it gets genuinely fascinating. As Graeme put it, we will live in a world immersed in
. . . just photons. Atoms are no longer required and this is going to bring a huge social change.
No wonder his talk was titled: In the Future: A world Without Atoms.
The world of Mixed Reality will be one of photons. What is a photon? Here is a refresher in case you skipped physics in High School. Light has the unique characteristic to behave both like a wave and a particle at the same time. Scientists have named the particles that make up light photons. In physics, a photon is a bundle of electromagnetic energy. It is the basic unit that makes up all light. The photon is sometimes referred to as a “quantum” of electromagnetic energy. Whatever the final product Magic Leap wizards ship to market, it will be one that shapes how we see by streaming photons directly into our eyes.
As Chief Wizard, Graeme is busy thinking about what Mixed Reality games, content, and applications are going to be in this future world. His word of advice – if you want to have a wonderful life, write your obituary now and put in it all the good things you wish to have. Or think of WWWS – What Will Wired Say. He had a point here as the May 2016 issue of Wired had a lengthy article on Magic Leap’s aspirations to create the next computing platform. Magic Leap is busy making the next article come true soon enough or as he put it.
Mixed Reality must be the Wired Article we dream about.
Magic leap has been making all of us anxiously wait as they prepare to unveil the product, but Graeme Devine emphasized that change is happening, and you have to have faith. He discussed Mixed Reality in 4 contexts – Games, Media, Communication, and Information.
The Games industry has not changed much lately. The last time they did, it was in the 1990s with Super Mario 64 when it moved from 2D into 3D. Mixed Reality will change this as it will move us from playing games behind the screen into playing in the world around us. As he put it,
Mixed Reality will inspire and delight the audience.
In Media, Magic Leap wants Mixed Reality to be the better and preferred source for media consumption giving the viewer the ultimate visual and immersive experience. Once we get there, there will be no room for TVs and screens on our walls or even in our hands.
In terms of communication, today, different generations have their own preferred communication mode from smartphones, Skype to Snapchat, and avatars, but the lines are blurring. All of us like personal moments when you feel the presence of your friends and family and can look them in the eye. Mixed Reality will be more interactive and deeply social. With Mixed Reality, there will be no difference whether we sit next to each other in the physical world or miles apart.
Thinking about information in Mixed Reality, Graeme examined the existing examples in Augmented Reality apps overlaying information into the physical world, which he felt were often distracting and not particularly useful. He hopes that in the future of Mixed Reality will bring information within our context.
I will be more informed and aware of where I am and what I am doing.
His vision is that Mixed Reality will be in education, museums, and concerts and free us from having to hold a phone and capture everything to focus on the essential things in life. Graeme believes that Mixed Reality will make the world around us a classroom.
What Matters to Magic Leap
In his concluding remarks, Graeme focus on highlighting the critical areas of importance to Magic Leap as the company continues on its journey. In Magic Leap, keeping a culture with an emphasis on people, both inside the company and the world, takes the highest priority as they set themselves with the goal to make humanity better, to make humans smarter, human relationships, and life more enjoyable. He cautioned that what Magic Leap does may be better and not necessarily something entirely new, giving the examples of Henry Ford and Elon Musk. Ford revolutionized transportation by inventing the car, while Elon Musk is set on perfecting the vehicle we know into the car of the future.
The next item on his list was that the experience matters. Magic Leap wants everyone’s first and subsequent experiences in Mixed Reality to be incredible.
The photons we present to you must be magical.
Graeme pointed out that Star Wars is the only Sci-Fi that uses holograms, and he makes everyone entering the company watch it. He didn’t shy away from sharing his view on the questions on the mind of many Star Wars fans, namely Han definitely shot first. Finally, when you start out on the journey that seeks to improve human life, you’ve got to have faith.
Graeme Devine, Chief Game Wizard at Magic Leap, opened his talk referencing Nick Morgan’s quote that the only reason to give a speech is to change the world. And after his talk, I think that the only reason for Magic Leap to exist is to change the world. After listening to his talk and my conversations with him, I fully believe that Magic Leap will do just that.
Maya Georgieva is an EdTech and XR strategist, futurist and speaker with more than 15 years of experience in higher education and global education policy. Her most recent work focuses on innovation, VR/AR and Immersive storytelling, design and digital strategy. Maya actively writes and speaks on the topics of innovation, immersive storytelling and the future of education and consults organizations and startups in this space.