IMAGE: ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Magic Leap, the company best known for its augmented reality headsets, is unveiling some grand ideas about what it sees as the future of technology. Rony Abovitz, the company's CEO, first shared his vision for the future, called the "Magicverse," in Oct. 2018.
Abovitz expanded on that idea in a company blog post and interview Saturday, in which he describes the Magicverse as "an Emergent System of Systems bridging the physical with the digital, in a large scale, persistent manner within a community of people."
Uhh, what the heck does that mean? Abovitz and his team essentially see the Magicverse as a physical spaced layered with digital objects and services that people can access through connected devices of all types — including, of course, Magic Leap headsets.
"Data, information and experiences within these environments are unlocked from screens and servers to persist at scale in contextually relevant physical environments," the blog post reads.
A diagram that Magic Leap shared in its blog post helps explain. It essentially shows how AR will enable us to embed digital services into our physical world.
The 'Magicverse' layers digital information , via AR, over the physical world.
IMAGE: MAGIC LEAP
There's one crucial component from the Magicverse that is not quite a reality yet, however: 5G.
According to Abovitz, because the Magicverse relies on constant connectivity, 5G — the buzzword technology concept of the moment — will be what gives the Magicverse its power. It's the new wireless network that ISPs, chip-makers, and gadget companies are racing to make a reality.
"One of the conditions to enable the Magicverse is the hundreds of billions of dollars of new infrastructure to create high-speed network & edge computing zones in modern cities across many countries," the Magic Leap blog post reads. "5G (and what follows it) are major components of what feels like a new, spatial internet."
5G promises ultra-high speed connectivity. But it will also have much higher capacity — the amount of devices a network can support at any given times. Higher speed, along with increased capacity, will supposedly be what enables a society filled with Internet Of Things (IoT) objects to actually function. Or, in the case of the Magicverse, multiple layers of digital space accessed through connected devices.
Abovitz's vision for the Magicverse is still extremely abstract; what, by the way, is a digital layer of "energy and water"?
Cool. How exactly does the Energy and Water layer work in Magicverse? It’s digital I understand, but I don’t exactly get it, and the health and wellness layer? Are these different categories of use cases? Do tell more.
— Ari Roisman (@AriRoisman) February 22, 2019
However, the Magicverse is significant because it actually provides a rare blueprint for what a 5G future actually could look like.
The "5G future" is a concept that ISPs have been promising, with little agreement on what that actually means. To date, it's been explained as really fast internet, plus diagrams of things like autonomous cars communicating with each other. The promise of 5G is so far a lot of hot air and marketing.
But Abovitz's Magicverse could show how 5G will really help change the world, even if that means everybody is walking around wearing AR headsets to interact with virtual objects and points of interest. Who woulda thought that our introduction to the future would be Pokémon Go?
"Billions of devices will become windows into the spatial digital world," the blog post reads.
The Magicverse concept is in its early days and contains plenty of question marks. But it is one way to envision what a hyper-connected world, made possible by 5G, could actually look like.
And given all the confusing info about 5G that's currently out there, we'll take it.