Magic Leap and ILMxLAB are Bringing Star Wars to MR with New Partnership

by Jamie Feltham • June 16th, 2016

We’re still yet to see the full extent of Magic Leap’s mixed reality (MR) technology, but it somehow continues to make exciting announcements.

One such announcement was made today. Company Founder, President, and CEO Rony Abovitz has revealed a partnership with Lucasfilm and its Industrial Light and Magic Experience Lab (ILMxLAB). He was joined by Lucasfilm’s John Brado and ILM’s John Gaeta. First announced at this week’s Wired Business Conference, the pairing will see the two work together on MR storytelling experiences which will of course utilise the ever popular Star Wars brand. In fact, the two even showcased some early work together at the conference, revealing a Star Wars scene playing out within MR.

The scene looks like it takes place during Return of the Jedi and features classic Star Wars droids, C-3PO and R2-D2 surveying a holographic map while standing in an everyday living room. While shown as a standard video at the conference, in practise the user would view this through a pair of see-through lenses that project virtual items in a real world space. It’s a sort of meta experience featuring holograms within holograms as iconic ships being to fly around the room.

The footage was shot directly through Magic Leap’s technology, though the company still isn’t ready to show off its mysterious head-mounted display or give any details about a possible consumer release for the tech. It calls the tech powering this concept Mixed Reality Lightfields. Magic Leap first revealed its work well over a year ago now and has since attracted investment from the likes of Google.

The pair will even launch a joint research lab at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco campus later this month, which ILMxLAB Executive Creative Director John Gaeta labels as a “Collab Lab”. He said in a statement: “We are pushing into an era of experiential, persistent and perceptual storytelling. We want people to step inside our stories, and we want those stories to react back to people in deeply compelling ways. However, before magical realism becomes a seamless part of everyday life, it needs some advanced prototyping.”

That prototyping is something that’s being carried across all areas of ILMxLAB’s work. Even its first VR experience, Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, is simply a brief demo that serves as a sign of things to come. That said, other videos of its work also suggest much bigger things are in store. Magic Leap, meanwhile, continues to gain huge amounts of funding while keeping tight lipped about its tech.

Expect great things to come of this partnership; these are two of the most exciting names in any kind of reality-altering technology right now.

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