Magic Leap, one of the most hyped yet mysterious players in the nascent augmented reality scene, has pulled in more than half a billion dollars in a Series D equity round.
Returning investors in the $502 million round include Google, Alibaba, J.P. Morgan, Fidelity Management and Research, and T. Rowe Price. Newbies include Grupo Globo, Temasek, EDBI, and Janus Henderson Investors.
“We’re excited to welcome Temasek and the other new investors in this round to the Magic Leap family. We also greatly appreciate the strong support and partnership from our existing shareholders,” said Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz.
Augmented reality involves superimposing virtual images over the real world, as opposed to virtual reality, which is entirely artificial. The technology hasn’t really taken off yet in the consumer space, though Microsoft has received a lot of coverage for its Hololens implementation (which the company calls “mixed reality”).
Magic Leap, which now has almost $2 billion in funding and a reported valuation of $6 billion, is building an augmented reality (AR) headset of some sort—supposedly bigger than regular glasses but smaller than virtual reality headsets from the likes of Facebook’s Oculus Rift.
Images of a much larger test rig “leaked” earlier this year, though Abovitz rushed to assure observers that this did not represent anything like the finished product.
The company has claimed that its “light field” technology will avoid the eye strain that is sometimes associated with head-mounted displays, by allegedly mimicking our natural mechanisms for visual perception to create realistic virtual objects. All this is supposedly enabled by a “light field chip” that’s based on a cutting-edge area of research called silicon photonics.
Until Magic Leap’s technology sees the light (sorry) of day, skepticism still abounds. Still, $502 million is not a bad step in that direction.