It's hard to watch Star Wars and not want to reach into the screen and pull things from its science-fantasy world into our own. How cool would it be to have a lightsaber? Or a service droid? Or a best friend who was a Wookiee? Or, you know, a spaceship? One seemingly small thing we've all been dreaming of from Star Wars is on the verge of becoming a reality: holograms.
Well, kind of. Technically speaking, that image you see of C-3PO and R2-D2 in a living room isn't a hologram in the traditional sense. It's more like a piece of virtual reality that is filtered digitally so as to look like it's in the real world. It does require a special set of goggles to see, but it's not like other VR systems.
Check it out.
The technology comes from a company called Magic Leap and no one really knows how it works. At least, no one outside the company. The Magic Leap people are incredibly secretive and only demo the tech at their offices. Whatever they're doing, though, is attracting some serious attention. They've raised over $1.4 billion in funding so far, with some of the biggest companies in the world, like Google, being early investors. Entertainment companies have certainly taken notice, too, as is the case with this demo Magic Leap made in conjunction with Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB.
The two companies aren't saying yet what the endgame is for this demo. Are they creating a new mixed-reality video game? Are they going to be creating some kind of in-room experience for future Star Wars movies? Are they going to be creating a "holochess" game? Either way, Magic Leap and Lucasfilm are up to something, since this video is announcing a new partnership between them. And it sounds like it'll be a particularly exciting one, with Vicki Dobbs Beck, one of the bigwigs in Lucasfilm's Story Group, offering up this enticing quote to Wired, “I’ve spent 24 years at ILM, but I cannot recall anything that looks or feels like this."
And if you're curious to learn more about the mysterious Magic Leap, Wired has a great, long piece on the company.