Magic Leap smart glasses patent hints at firm’s ambitions

Tim Maytom

Florida-based startup Magic Leap has remained largely an enigma in the tech world, despite the $4.5bn (£3.5bn) in funding the company has received from investors including Google, Alibaba and KPCB. Now, an illustration from a patent application, originally filed in 2015, has emerged, indicating the firm may be working on a pair of smart glasses to complement its mixed reality software.

The design patent application shows a slim pair of glasses with goggle-like frames and sensors on either side of the headset. Magic Leap has denied that the glasses are a product it is actively developing, saying that the firm files “lots of patents” and these are simply one avenue of research. However, this is only the second public design patent application from the firm that has emerged, suggesting that the design may be more than just theoretical.

According to Business Insider, sources with knowledge of Magic Leap’s hardware said that while the illustration is close to Magic Leap’s product in appearance, the real hardware is larger and bulkier, with a central depth sensor between the lenses. One person who had previously seen schematics of Magic Leap’s products said that the current design has one camera on each arm, rather than the two which appear in the illustration, and that the current headset is “thick-rimmed like hipster glasses,” but with thicker arms.

Investors and other VIPs who have had demos of Magic Leap’s technology have described its hardware as smaller than modern VR headsets but larger than other smart glasses technology, such as Snapchat’s Spectacles and Google Glass. Earlier this year The Financial Times reported that the company was preparing to release its eyeware in 2017, but so far the firm hasn’t released any details on products, or distributed development hardware to software makers.