Magic Leap Plans to Use Location-Based Entertainment to Win Over Consumers

Magic Leap is taking some cues from one of the latest trends in virtual reality: The maker of the Magic Leap One headset is looking to use location-based entertainment to get consumers familiar with its technology, and ultimately prepare them to buy its headsets once a mass-market version is available to the general public.

“We think that market, those location-based experiences, is huge,” said Magic Leap chief content officer Rio Caraeff in an interview with Variety on the sidelines of the company’s first L.E.A.P. developer conference in Los Angeles this week.

The company used L.E.A.P. to demonstrate a first example of location-based entertainment powered by its Magic Leap One headset. Santa Fe, N.M.-based arts collective Meow Wolf showed off its Navigator, a giant robot vehicle that attendees could interact with via a combination of touch screen displays and superimposed AR imagery of distant galaxies.

A promotional video for Meow Wolf’s Navigator, which the arts collective built in partnership with Magnopus.

The seven-minute demo of the Navigator was just a first taste for Meow Wolf’s plans to incorporate AR into future attractions. In the company’s upcoming Denver outpost, attendees will be able to freely roam the space wearing Magic Leap’s headsets, and interact with multiple art pieces, including the Navigator showed off this week. The arts group, whose funders include “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin, currently plans to open this AR-powered exhibition by 2020.

But while the Navigator came together in a matter of weeks, Magic Leap has been toying with the idea of location-based AR for much longer. In 2016, the company cooperated with Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB on an internal project known as the Hoth experiment. This involved turning a warehouse next to Magic Leap’s corporate office into a replica of the ice planet Hoth, complete with AT-AT walkers breaking through the ceiling and life-sized Snowspeeders whizzing through the air.

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