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We have seen it in movies. The mind-bending, shape-shifting, and objects-flying-through-the-air reality portrayed in movies like Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Minority Report, Robocop, Avatar, the Terminator series, and many more intrigued us and had us glued to our screens. Now this “reality” is about to become real. Augmented reality is set to descend upon us courtesy of a hitherto-unknown tech startup that is suddenly making news and creating ripples.

Magic Leap, a Google-backed company, has announced that it is building a powerful augmented reality system. The hardware will consist of a headset (You might like to think of Iron Man Tony Stark.) that will tweak and twist light to create an illusion of reality. Magic Leap has already built a software development kit for their AR platform that will be compatible with the Unity and Unreal game engines, the pioneers of off-screen virtual reality programs. Although they have not announced a release date for the SDK, Magic Leap Chief Creative Officer Graeme Devine said at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital summit that they will soon start to invite developers. Also present on stage at the summit were Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz and Chief Futurist science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson.

Magic Leap is being tight-lipped about its offering but sent out teasers to keeps us hooked. They released a video on YouTube that shows how you can play a first-person shooter game in your office. The game is called Dr. Grordbort Presents Victory. There are real gun props with which you can shoot. The AR headset superimposes vicious robots into your real-world office environment and you can kill them by pulling the trigger of your gun.

Magic Leap collaborated with Weta Workshop, a creative studio in New Zealand, to create the video. Weta Workshop has also produced the visual effects for films like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is no wonder the video is a stunner! But Magic Leap promises that the real thing will be even more exciting.

Not surprisingly, the video has gone viral, and both developers and the geek community are wondering, “Is this for real?” The top brass at Magic Leap hopes that this video will encourage developers to sign up on their website to request access to the SDK.

The augmented reality system by Magic Leap will compete with Microsoft’s HoloLens, although the two tech companies have not yet admitted to this.

The HoloLens is fitted into a small pair of goggles and includes a set of speakers and a holographic processing unit. With this setup, the HoloLens, a projector unit of sorts but of the highest quality, recreates reality and beams it right into your eyes. The images not only look real but also feel so, courtesy of the audio and the powerful sensors. There are no lags even when you move around because the powerful processing unit continuously tracks your position and adjusts the placement of the virtual objects before projecting the images onto your eyes.

Although Magic Leap’s recent announcement has created a flutter in the tech community, many are skeptical if it will deliver a performance to match Microsoft’s product. Some others are hopeful that we are about to enter an era where reality will only be as real as we choose to make it.

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