Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, is in talks to acquire Magic Leap, an augmented reality (AR) startup, according to a report by The Financial Times. The deal, which is reportedly worth $2 billion, would give Meta access to Magic Leap's AR technology and expertise.
Magic Leap is a privately held company that was founded in 2011. The company's first AR headset, the Magic Leap One, was released in 2018. The headset was met with mixed reviews, with some critics praising its immersive experience and others criticizing its high price tag and limited applications.
Meta has been investing heavily in AR and virtual reality (VR) technology in recent years. In 2021, Meta announced that it would be spending $10 billion on AR and VR research and development.
The acquisition of Magic Leap would be a major coup for Meta. The company would gain access to Magic Leap's AR technology and expertise, which could help Meta to accelerate its development of its own AR products and services. The deal would also give Meta a leg up on its rivals, such as Apple and Google, which are also investing heavily in AR and VR technology.
Meta Leveraging Magic Leap to Push AR/Metaverse Technology
It is still too early to say whether Meta will be able to acquire Magic Leap. However, the talks between the two companies are a sign that Meta is serious about building a leading position in the AR market. Here are some of the potential benefits of the acquisition for Meta:
- Access to Magic Leap's AR technology: Magic Leap has developed some of the most advanced AR technology in the world. Acquiring Magic Leap would give Meta access to this technology, which could help the company to accelerate its development of its own AR products and services.
- Access to Magic Leap's expertise: Magic Leap has a team of experienced AR engineers and developers. Acquiring Magic Leap would give Meta access to this expertise, which could help the company to improve its own AR technology.
- Increased competition for Apple and Google: Apple and Google are also investing heavily in AR and VR technology. Acquiring Magic Leap would help Meta to increase competition in this market, which could benefit consumers by driving down prices and improving innovation.
Magic Leap is the most direct major competitor to Microsoft's HoloLens 2 augmented reality device and platform. However, the device has failed to get the kind of developer support Microsoft has enjoyed. Magic Leap's hardware was launched in 2018. As for Meta, it is heavily invested already in VR and AR through its purchase of Oculus for $2 billion in 2014.
Combining the Metaverse with the Power of AI
In February, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the company is merging its AI development teams into a single division. He says the company wants to “turbocharge” its AI development. Meta transitioned from Facebook to focus on the development of the Metaverse. The company saw augmented reality technology as the next major breakthrough.
However, AI mainstreaming has reached a new level and Meta was one of the companies caught off guard by Microsoft's products such as Bing Chat, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Azure OpenAI Service. While Microsoft is already legitimately an AI company, its Big Tech rivals are not as mature in their AI development.
However, by purchasing Magic Leap, Meta is showing that it is still also fully behind its plans in the Metaverse. Of course, AI will play a major role in those plans. During March, I reported on Meta's AI breakthrough for seeing robots. The company unveiled a new generation of AI robots that can learn to perform challenging sensorimotor skills by watching videos of humans.
The company's AI researchers have developed two innovations: adaptive sensorimotor coordination (ASC) and visual cortex (VC-1) i robot AI. ASC is a framework that allows robots to learn from videos of humans performing everyday tasks and then adapt their actions to different environments and embodiments.