Secretive augmented reality company Magic Leap has blown the minds of investors and tech visionaries — but not, supposedly, Beyoncé. In a long report on Magic Leap, Business Insider noted that CEO Rony Abovitz was fond of giving demonstrations to celebrities. According to former employees, Beyoncé “received a personalized Magic Leap demo — and was bored by it.”
Business Insider’s sources use this anecdote to make a larger point about the company: the demo, reportedly created on short notice, was “more of a reflection of Abovitz' desire to connect with celebrities than anything directly related to the company's business.” While it’s been massively hyped, the company has reportedly had problems miniaturizing its technology, although Business Insider writes that a headset demo is “in ‘decent’ shape” ahead of a board meeting next week. Former employees also said that Magic Leap is targeting $1,000 to $2,000 for a final product, which is less than the competing Microsoft HoloLens development kit, but also likely a blue-sky projection for a product whose existence is still nebulous.
But since it may be months or years until any of us get to try the headset for ourselves, let’s go back to the part where Magic Leap — a technology that impressed science fiction author Neal Stephenson enough for the company to recruit him — was reportedly insufficient to hold Beyoncé’s attention. What exactly did she see? “One of our sources said it was a ‘Mermaid’ demo,” editor Steven Tweedie later told my colleague Casey Newton on Twitter. Beyond that, it’s a mystery.
One might interpret this news to mean that Magic Leap actually is having problems creating holograms that can stand up to scrutiny, or that it’s still in an early stage of developing compelling hardware and software. But maybe Beyoncé has just been too busy taking over the internet (and possibly the world) to bother with anything less.