It's been almost three months since Google lead a $542 million round of funding for the Magic Leap, an augmented reality project shrouded in mystery. Aside from vague claims about a "biomimetic Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal," the CEO of Legendary Pictures calling it "jaw-dropping," and Neal Stephenson becoming the project's "Chief Futurist," we still don't know much at all.
That changed this week when a massive Magic Leap patent application appeared on the US Patent and Trademark Office's website. Patent filings are inherently broad in scope, especially for big companies like Google. (Apple is notorious for this.) Many of the ideas at play here may never make it to the final version of Magic Leap, but that doesn't mean what's inside isn't fun to dream about.
It starts off innocently enough with some seemingly obvious drawings of what the device could look like, how it might work, and the general applications it could be used for:
That's where it starts getting weird. Everything from the gamification of cucumber chopping to interactive charm bracelets gets theorized:
Then, the Magic Leap dystopia appears. The drawings reveal a possible future where Magic Leap will allow a bachelor to not only interact with and photograph a football game from his couch (something tells me the NFL would have a problem with this), but also "hang" a virtual Quantum of Solace poster for on his wall for some reason, probably because he likes loneliness.
In the supermarket, a mother's shopping experience will be enhanced and augmented with things like a virtual grocery list displayed right on the handle. (Gender roles appear to be the one thing no one thought to develop in this version of the future.) Meanwhile, her child can play a brand-sponsored virtual game in which a monster pops out from behind the cereal boxes — because if there's one thing that can enhance everyone's shopping experience it's hallucinatory children screaming in terror.
The Twilight Zone / Black Mirror-ish world expands from there, with doctors (male, of course) showing a patient a 3D-model of her heart before she stares off into a beachy abyss, her gaze unbroken.
The more things change, though, the more they stay the same. Elsewhere in the future, an AR-assisted Carl Spackler is still chasing that gopher:
Jokes aside, Magic Leap has revolutionary potential, which is why we're all anxious to see it in action. But while the possibilities are the stuff of dreams, I now know for sure what my nightmares are about to look like.