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When Will Magic Leap Be Real? Maybe Next Year in Jerusalem

Passover Seder is one of my favorite features of Jewish tradition. During the dinner, there is a responsive reading section, in which the youngest asks the elder a series of questions about when the suffering and affliction will end, when the Messiah will finally arrive, and so on.

To each question, the answer is a chant of “Next Year in Jerusalem.” It is the closest thing to Brecht’s Waiting for Godot that we Jews have. It also has some relationship to the evangelical promise, often displayed on the marquis of evangelical churches promising that Jesus is coming soon or even the promise of many an Irish tavern of free beer tomorrow.

My father used the line when I was a kid. I would ask when we were getting a new car or when I could take my bike to the beach with my friends and I was told next year in Jerusalem.

My point is that Next year in Jerusalem is a gentle way of saying, "It just ain't going to happen, Bubba."

The the phrase went through my head when I read an article in which Rony Abovitz, founder and CEO of Magic Leap proclaimed that his heavily invested, much-touted, supposedly elegant product is coming soon.

It was a well-timed promise, coming a little over a week after Apple released ARKit for developers who have already started showing remarkable and diverse applications that will work on hundreds of millions of existing iPhones an iPads when a new operating system is released presumably in September.

Apple is pretty credible at release dates and all I really know about Magic Leap, is that it generated massive excitement a while back with a whale leaping out of a gymnasium floor, a demo that really excited me until I learned that it had been faked.

So now, I find myself wondering just when soon is coming? Will it be before Apple's AR apps are available on iPhones that people already have, or will it be after Godot arrives for a Passover dinner next year in an Irish tavern in Jerusalem?

It seems to be that 'Soon' is just one more way of saying, 'Next year in Jerusalem.'

In his interview earlier this week, Abovitz also proclaimed his new headsets will be neither VR nor AR, but something he called “spatial ambience,” and it portends to kill the entire flat screen business. Yet his description goes on to come amazingly close to what everyone else is calling Mixed Reality.

I'm trained as a journalist. I was trained that if my mother says she loves me, I should put no value in it until I get a second confirmation. Let's put that aside, and and assume that Magic Leap releases a device a approximately the same time as the products being developed in ARKnet for September release.

What are you likely to go with if you are already an Apple device owner? Will it be something you can use at little or n cost on a device that is already part of your life from a brand that you generally trust--or will you send an undetermined amount on a device that you do not have from a company that stirred up awe and excitement with a faked whale starring in its demo.

To tell you the truth, this is my profession and I will probably buy both. If the Magic Leap product is as phenomenal as a whale leaping from the gymnasium floor, I will write glowingly about it an publically apologize for having doubted Rony's many promises over the past couple of years.

But my iPhone is what I will carry around with me. It is what I will use to improve my shopping experiences and to enhance my experiences watching sports or converts. I will use Apple AR as an enhancement of my everyday life, while Magic Leap will remain an expensive novelty. My geek friends like Scoble may walk around showing off a Magic Leap, but my guess is the AR from Apple is what will soon improve and expand the nature of life for everyday people.

But all that assumes a very big IF. 

Years ago, there was a tech industry term called vaporware. It was used to to describe products that could stir up excitement, generate revenue, and hurt competitive launches of legitimate new technology.

So is Magic Leap able to make whales leap up from the floor or is it just a modern variation of vaporware?

We will learn the answer, next year in Jerusalem.


Shel IsraelComment