Google-backed Magic Leap opens up to third-party developers

Magic Leap, the mysterious startup backed by Google that is developing a headset for augmented reality, wants outside help to create content for its device.

On Tuesday, the company said it would be opening its platform to third-party developers with an SDK (software development kit) that would let developers create content for Magic Leap’s system.

Magic Leap has developed what it calls a photonics light field chip, which would project 3D images directly on people’s eyes and superimpose those images over what users see in the real world. It’s designed to be superior to stereoscopic vision, which uses two different images to trick the eye into thinking something is 3D. Magic Leap thinks this “augmented” content could take any number of forms, for applications in gaming but also in storytelling and communications.

During a panel talk at the EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Magic Leap executives said they would be training developers to use their SDK and that developers could sign up on the Magic Leap website to get more information.

The SDK works with the Unreal and Unity game engines, they said.

Rony Abovitz, founder and CEO of Magic Leap, described the SDK as a “wide open platform” for app developers as well as artists, filmmakers and writers.

Magic Leap gave few other details beyond its stated intent to have the SDK serve as a platform for a broad array of applications.

Industry watchers have been abuzz over Magic Leap since Google led a US$542 million funding round last year. To date, Magic Leap has raised $592 million total, said Abovitz, who noted that the company is now “out of the R&D phase” and into real product development.

Magic Leap recently opened a new manufacturing facility, he said, and now has hundreds of employees, with several offices in addition to its Dania Beach, Florida, headquarters.

“We’re not a garage startup anymore,” Abovitz said.

Still, he gave no timing on when Magic Leap’s technology might find its way into a commercial product.

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