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Making Magic by Integrating the Digital and Physical Worlds with Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap

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When a new technology with tremendous potential rolls out, expectations are sky high. It’s going to be a magical technology that changes the world, right? If it doesn’t take off immediately with consumers, there can be a tendency to overreact, be let down, give up, and move on to the next new thing that’s supposed to change the world. But what if the technology is augmented reality and it does, truly, change the way people see the world? Even though everyone isn’t walking around every second, using AR, just yet, augmented reality has been making great strides over the last decade. And Peggy Johnson, the CEO of Magic Leap, explains that digital augmentation will be the norm eventually.

“There will be a time again where we’ll look back and say, ‘Remember when we didn’t have digital augmentation in front of our eyes.’ Whether that’ll be in the form of glasses that we’ll wear or contacts maybe at some point, I do believe we will have that kind of capability as a tool to help us just get through our days, do our jobs, and to entertain us. This is the start of it.”

The way to combat overreacting when a new technology is not immediately broadly used is to simply realize that it takes time to change the world; in particular, how people see the world. With augmented reality, the complex goal is to seamlessly integrate physical and digital spaces. That’s a real challenge. Technological advancement of this magnitude takes patienceents and there are always fits and starts. But it’s happening right now.

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Peggy shares the state of AR today and where she sees it heading in the future. She also explains how technological advancement has a trajectory that can sometimes be misunderstood. If a technology does not immediately take off with consumers, some mistakenly write it off as a failure. She also discusses the journey trials and tribulations that Magic Leap has been through as a company, including how she’s helped the company pivot from a consumer-facing to product one that focuses solely on enterprise applications. Peggy clarifies that this is just part of the process as a powerful technology is often first directed toward consumers, then to enterprise, and then finally cycles back to consumers in a major way. Enjoy the episode!

Main Takeaways

  • It’s Okay to Pivot: Resisting change is like trying to try to stop the seasons. Magic Leap was first more consumer-focused but then pivoted to enterprise. Its initial consumer-facing approach helped to visually clarify what augmented reality could be. Now, there are many enterprise use cases for Magic Leap. 
  • Proving Value: For consumers, value is about having great content and then enough of it. For enterprise clients, proving value is also constant. Magic Leaps works with current application vendors of their enterprise clients to help heighten their existing applications with AR. Security and privacy are big concerns for companies that must be addressed too. In the enterprise-lane, the AR device typically needs to be used all day so it has to be very comfortable to wear: smaller, lighter, and not too hot. No one wants overheated employees.
  • Creating Ahead of the Curve: Being out front with new technologies requires a bold mentality. When a company creates products ahead of the curve, they have to make things that have never been made before. A company culture of innovation supported by similarly oriented partners gets great work done.
  • Vendors as Partners: There’s no doubt AR is complex and groundbreaking so new products and components need to be built all the time. In this sense, the supply chain is always having to catch up with very speedy tech. Having vendors that are more like partners help to keep the supply chain moving efficiently.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article 

When a new technology with tremendous potential rolls out, expectations are sky high. It’s going to be a magical technology that changes the world, right? If it doesn’t take off immediately with consumers, there can be a tendency to overreact, be let down, give up, and move on to the next new thing that’s supposed to change the world. But what if the technology is augmented reality and it does, truly, change the way people see the world? Even though everyone isn’t walking around every second, using AR, just yet, augmented reality has been making great strides over the last decade. And Peggy Johnson, the CEO of Magic Leap, explained that digital augmentation will be the norm eventually.

“There will be a time again where we’ll look back and say, ‘Remember when we didn’t have digital augmentation in front of our eyes,’” Johnson said. Whether that’ll be in the form of glasses that we’ll wear or contacts maybe at some point, I do believe we will have that kind of capability as a tool to help us just get through our days, do our jobs, and to entertain us. This is the start of it.”

The way to combat overreacting when a new technology is not immediately broadly used is to simply realize that it takes time to change the world; in particular, how people see the world. With augmented reality, the complex goal is to seamlessly integrate physical and digital spaces. That’s a real challenge. Technological advancement of this magnitude takes patience and there are always fits and starts. But it’s happening right now.

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Johnson shared the state of AR today and where she sees it heading in the future. She also explained how technological advancement has a trajectory that can sometimes be misunderstood. If a technology does not immediately take off with consumers, some mistakenly write it off as a failure. She also discussed the journey trials and tribulations that Magic Leap has been through as a company, including how she’s helped the company pivot from a consumer-facing to product one that focuses solely on enterprise applications. Peggy clarified that this is just part of the process as a powerful technology is often first directed toward consumers, then to enterprise, and then finally cycles back to consumers in a major way. 

“It was definitely tuned toward the consumer market originally and in some ways that the consumer market is a great way to show off the capabilities.” Johnson said. 

When a new product first enters the market, it can be more expensive at first and that can be an impediment to early adoption. 

“It was fairly expensive for a consumer product and there simply wasn’t enough content,” Johnson said. “Over time we did pivot toward enterprise and that was absolutely the right move because there are very real use cases right here, right now with Magic Leap 1. And those will be enhanced even further when we come out with our next generation product, Magic Leap 2.” 

The current use cases for Magic Leap are very encouraging. Combining the digital and physical worlds together in a format that allows for repetition fosters learning. One use case example that’s very promising is in the area of pre-surgical planning. 

“You can look at a human form and on top of it, you can overlay digital content,” Johnson said. “For instance, we have a partner of ours right now, actually using it to do pre-surgical planning. They’ve taken what used to be a 2D depiction of a Cat Scan of a brain and they turned it into a 3D image, initially just on PCs. But now with Magic Leap, they built it onto our platform. And you can actually see a brain in the middle of your room and you can walk around it. You can map out the surgical pathways that the surgeon needs to take. And then when the surgeon goes into surgery, they can see that digital line overlaid onto the patient’s brain.”

The benefit ofto augmented pre-surgical planning is obviously beneficial, and then the fact that the AR can even assist the actual surgery is even more incredible. The utility of this sort of digital meets physical integration is at the heart of AR technology and will manifest into greater adoption.

“The use cases will really resonate first with enterprise and over time they’ll flow into the consumer market, which will be the bigger market over time,” Johnson said.

This is all leading to a digitally, physically integrated world for everyone. 

“I think in the same way that we run back to our desktop or we look at our phone and we ask questions all day long, we’re searching things, getting answers, the ease of that will be how we view augmented reality in that you’ll be able to do your job in your physical world, but it’ll be augmented with this digital content that maybe previously you would’ve had to find your phone or run over to a PC,” Johnson said. “And there it’ll just be right in front of your eyes.” 

Eventually, this integrated experience won’t be considered heightened — it will just be reality. The increased learning and work capabilities may feel magical at first but then will be accepted as normal over time. But when that happens, new technological magic will be just beyond the current field of view.

To hear more about how Johnson and Magic Leap are making magic real as they work to integrate the digital and physical realms, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

IT Visionaries is brought to you by the Salesforce Platform – the #1 cloud platform for digital transformation of every experience. Build connected experiences, empower every employee, and deliver continuous innovation – with the customer at the center of everything you do. Learn more at salesforce.com/platform

Episode 315