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Magic Leap
A rendering of a Magic Leap-projected submarine

Google invests $500m in VR ‘rocket ship for the mind’

Virtual reality start-up Magic Leap wants to build the world's most hyper-realistic movie experience

Watch out, Oculus Rift, you've got competition. Meet the virtual reality start-up Magic Leap, which is reportedly about to raise $500 million in funding from Google. Not much is known about the mysterious company, beyond the fact that they're promising "cinematic reality" on a scale that we've never seen before. (Nothing too ambitious, then.)

Re/code sources say that Google is leading the million-dollar funding round for the Florida company. Magic Leap already closed an earlier $50 million in funding earlier this year. So why are Google and other investors so interested in a business that few, if any, have heard of?

According to CEO Rony Abovitz, Magic Leap will take the idea of augmented reality to a whole new level of "cinematic reality", offering a more realistic 3D movie experience than existing virtual reality products.

"We have the term ‘cinematic reality’ because we are disassociated with those things (old terms like virtual and agumented reality)," Abovitz told the South Florida Business Journal. "When you see this, you will see that this is computing for the next 30 or 40 years. To go farther and deeper than we’re going, you would be changing what it means to be human."

Instead of having to put on a VR headset like Oculus, Magic Leap claims that its technology will make you feel like you're seeing an actual 3D object in the real world. You can head to their site to watch a preview of this in action: a tiny 3D elephant leaping and hovering in somebody's hands. 

Magic Leap calls these images "3D light sculptures" and "a rocket ship for the mind". Sounds like total hyperbole, although people who have trialled Magic Leap describe it as "one of the most profound moments" they've ever had. 

Intriguingly, Magic Leap already have solid connections to the film industry, including links to the New Zealand Lord of the Rings special effects powerhouse Weta Workshop. Looks like movies are going to get a whole lot more interesting.