Magic Leap Working With Sigur Rós For Experimental Mixed Reality Music Project


There's no other company as frustratingly secretive as Magic Leap, the startup who has promised to deliver the ultimate mixed reality device but has yet to deliver something — anything at all, really.

Last week, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz, though quite vaguely, hinted that the device its working on will enable "fun and cool stuff." That exact phrase embodies the company's willingness to share details about its projects. "Fun and cool" could be anything. There's not even a mere indication of what kind of device it is.

Until now. Magic Leap apparently invited Marc Hogan from music site Pitchfork to see what it was currently cooking up. The company showed Hogan an interactive music experiment co-designed by Icelandic band Sigur Rós, and he recounted that experience in an essay published Monday, Dec. 18. What did it reveal? Well, a little bit of something yet absolutely nothing at all.

Magic Leap Makes Music Come Alive

How is it possible for a verbose essay to reveal essentially nothing about its subject, which happens to be an integral part of the whole narrative? Well, it's not Hogan's fault. Magic Leap has a tight control on reports via nondisclosure agreements, meaning Pitchfork couldn't publish anything about the company's elusive device.

Still, there were a few details that managed to slip through the company's neck-choking secrecy: the device, or at least in the context of the interactive music experience Hogan tried, recognized hand gestures, and it was able to integrate real-life shapes and have floating objects adapt to them. There are also several screenshots posted below, yet they don't necessarily represent what people will see through a pair of glasses.

Instead of describing the device Hogan used, he instead focused on the actual musical experience it provided. The app is called Tónandi, and it features a Sigur Rós track that incorporates jellyfish-like beings that respond to movement.

"I can influence the sounds with my hands, but it's neither a musical instrument, requiring skill, nor a toy, effortlessly spouting out unmusical noise," Hogan wrote. While he said he could move within the environment seeking out interactions, the experience didn't feel like a game. Also, it wasn't a music video either.

"The Tónandi experience is more like hiking or scuba-diving in your house while also being surrounded by supernatural beings."

Magic Leap's Secrecy

It's perfectly fine for Magic Leap not to showcase any hardware at this time. Perhaps it thinks the concept of mixed reality would sound much more appealing to people if they knew what it could do instead of what device they'd need to do it from. It's the classic "don't sell a mattress, sell a good night's sleep" type of principle in which the technical takes a back seat for the practical and intuitive take the spotlight.

Even still, people can't be faulted for maddeningly seeking more information about this enigmatic device, especially when Sigur Rós called it something that'll "replace everything that we know: phones, TVs, computers."

What do you think is Magic Leap working on? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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