Magic Leap’s Making a New Headset and Someone Thinks It’s Worth Half-a-Billion Dollars

Magic Leap’s Making a New Headset and Someone Thinks It’s Worth Half-a-Billion Dollars
Image: Magic Leap

Just when you thought Magic Leap had disappeared into the graveyard of failed AR headsets, the company announced today that it had raised another A$680 million at a A$2.7 billion valuation. Oh, and it’s working on a second version of its headset for release next year.

The news came straight from Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson during an interview on CNBC’s Power Lunch. Johnson revealed that the device would be called the Magic Leap 2 and that it would be a true “all-day” device. In renders and video clips of the device, it does look a good deal smaller and lighter than the original headset. The headset will also be capable of “segmented dimming” which can dim the “real world background” to make it easier to see augmented reality content. It’ll also have double the field of vision, better colour fidelity, image quality, and text legibility than its predecessor. You can see a render of the device in the CNBC interview, as well as two inexplicably zoomed-in shots from Johnson’s LinkedIn and a Magic Leap press release.

Johnson didn’t reveal price details, but it was clear from the interview that the new headset will be an enterprise-focused device. Johnson described the target demographics being surgeons, the defence sector, and manufacturing. That tracks with a blog penned today by Johnson on her one-year anniversary at Magic Leap, in which she emphasises that the company will focus on the enterprise space.

“This investment is an important step in advancing Magic Leap’s mission to transform the way we work,” Johnson said in a statement about the company’s new round of funding. “Since joining Magic Leap in 2020, my focus has been on accelerating the company’s shift to the enterprise market, strengthening our technological foundation, and building a robust business across sectors ranging from healthcare and manufacturing to defence and the public sector.”

This is a familiar shift. Right now, the most successful augmented reality headsets are all geared toward enterprise, including Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and the aptly named Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. It’s also somewhat of a reversal of Magic Leap’s dismal fortunes during the pandemic. Before Johnson came on last summer, the struggling company had been looking for a buyer to stay afloat. It then laid off 1,000 employees as part of a major restructuring before miraculously conjuring yet another A$476 million out of thin air.

The Magic Leap 2 will reportedly be available sometime next year, though an “early access program is also currently underway.” Only time will tell if it’s a success or a meme-able, overhyped flop like its predecessor.