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Neal Stephenson signs on as Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist

January 22, 2015 - holographic / magic / reality screen / science / software / speculative fiction / user interface

Neal Stephenson has signed on as Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist. He describes why in a post on their blog. In this excerpt he describes the technology in a way that sounds like there is no device worn by the user suggesting it may be something quite different from the HoloLens:

“In a teeming, overcrowded hardware lab in a South Florida strip mall, I got the demo from Rony, the founder and CEO. Shortly thereafter, I agreed to become Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist.

Here’s where you’re probably expecting the sales pitch about how mind-blowingly awesome the demo was. But it’s a little more interesting than that. Yes, I saw something on that optical table I had never seen before–something that only Magic Leap, as far as I know, is capable of doing. And it was pretty cool. But what fascinated me wasn’t what Magic Leap had done but rather what it was about to start doing.

Magic Leap is mustering an arsenal of techniques–some tried and true, others unbelievably advanced–to produce a synthesized light field that falls upon the retina in the same way as light reflected from real objects in your environment. Depth perception, in this system, isn’t just a trick played on the brain by showing it two slightly different images.

Most of the work to be done is in applied physics, with a sizable dollop of biology–for there’s no way to make this happen without an intimate understanding of how the eye sees, and the brain assembles a three-dimensional model of reality. I’m fascinated by the science, but not qualified to work on it. Where I hope I can be of use is in thinking about what to do with this tech once it is available to the general public. “Chief Futurist” runs the risk of being a disembodied brain on a stick. I took the job on the understanding that I would have the opportunity to get a few things done.”

He promises further updates on his site here as they are available…