Magic Leap is an incredibly secretive VR start-up but that has not stopped the firm from spilling the beans on arguably the most important partnership in the company’s history. That’s because at the Wired Business Conference in New York City, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz revealed that Magic Leap was working with LucasFilm to bring C-3PO and other Star Wars characters to life for everyone to enjoy.
C-3PO is best known as R2-D2’s humanoid companion, but soon he will come to life in living rooms everywhere thanks to the VR reimagining of the character. Working with ILMxLAB, Magic Leap is developing a raft of Star Wars-related content for Magic Leap’s technology.
Magic Leap is rumoured to be taking on the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens, with the company reportedly making a head-mounted virtual retinal display which superimposes 3D computer generated imagery over real world objects. Unlike Microsoft however, very few people have had the opportunity to see Magic Leap’s technology due to the company’s incredibly secretive operation.
While neither LucasFilm or Magic Leap will reveal many details regarding their partnership, Rony did premiere a new video at the Wired Business Conference where he showcased one possible future application. The application Rony has in mind is to use C-3PO as a future personal assistant, much like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.
“Might I have a word with you please?” C-3PO asks, shuffling in your direction. “I regret to report that due to unforeseen circumstances, we have not yet reached the desired arrangement with Jabba the Hutt regarding Captain Solo’s debt.”
Okay, it might not exactly be a useful personal assistant – offering assistance in fighting the empire, rather than organising your daily schedule, but it shows the possible future opportunities of the platform.
The technology demo also showcases exactly how mixed reality will work on the Magic Leap platform. Unlike the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, Magic Leap is working on ensuring that computer generated imagery interacts with the current world rather than a virtual world. This is similar to how the Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glass work.
This video demo showcases how impressive the mixed reality technology Magic Leap is working on, as R2-D2 and C-3PO are fully aware of obstacles in the physical environment and are able to both utilise and avoid them. For example, in the video R2-D2 beams a hologram on a table that exists in the physical world.
Rony tells Wired: “We’ve been testing these experiential story moments and trying to make mixed reality not a novelty, but a way for filmmakers and others can actually create real experiences and things that elevate and add to the universe of something like Star Wars. We want to be a medium how to tell stories—and ultimately, maybe the medium.”