In this podcast episode, I share some of my take aways from Magic Leap’s LEAPcon as well as talk with the creators behind the Sigur Ros interactive music experience called Tónandi, which is the best interactive AR experience that I’ve had so far. I talk with the creative & tech leads & Co-Directors Mike Tucker & Steve Mangiat as well as with Rebecca Barkin, who is a Senior Director, Magic Leap Studios & Senior Director of Strategy & Partners at Magic Leap.

My bottom-line take away is there’s a tension between the idealism of the potential of head-mounted AR and the pragmatic reality of how to sustainably get there. Magic Leap is choosing to empower artists to push the potential of what’s possible in terms or storytelling and cultivating an emotional connection, which is symbolically reflected in their first experience from Magic Leap Studios being a cutting-edge, interactive ambient music experience like Tónandi, which translates into “sound spirits.”

There’s been a lot of skepticism around Magic Leap’s marketing hype, but the story has had to be ahead of where the technology is because it takes time to produce a consumer product of something that doesn’t exist yet. Will the technology be able to live up to the potential of the stories that Magic Leap is telling? I’m convinced that spatial reality will be ubiquitous by either 2025 or 2045, and that it’s just a matter of time before their vision comes to pass. How we get there is another question.

But the developers I’ve talked with are overall genuinely excited about the potential, and they tell me that Magic Leap is the best AR HMD on the market today. No one knows all of the best practices for designing mixed reality experience yet and there’s a lot to figure out, which excites the pioneering developers to help figure it out.

On the pramgamtic reality side, the price is a barrier for nearly every application beyond enterprise apps, architecture, medical, or high-end immersive entertainment. But the phone-based AR ecosystem with the iOS ARkit & Android AR Core is providing a more robust and viable ecosystem for many developers to bootstrap themselves with viable immersive agency contracts that allows for a progressive enhancement from phone-based AR to Magic Leap consumer to Location-Based Entertainment.

I have many more take aways and impressions that I share in today’s podcast episode as well as in the Twitter threads down below.


Here is a Twitter thread with my reporting from Magic Leap’s LEAPcon

Here is a video made by JJ Castillo that captures the vibe and excitement of LEAPcon.

Behind the scenes of Tónandi | Sigur Rós in collaboration with Magic Leap Studios

Trailer for Tónandi

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Music: Fatality

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