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Secretive Alibaba-Backed Magic Leap Is Suing Its Staff… And Making Robots
In a rare glimpse into the secretive Alibaba-Google-backed augmented reality startup, Magic Leap, the company has filed a lawsuit against two former employees, claiming they worked on proprietary robotics technology while building a similar project outside the company for over a year.
The company claims that Gary Bradski, a senior vice president at the company “was aware of and involved in projects and plans that involved deep-learning techniques for robotics.” Bradski and another Magic Leap employee, Adrian Kaehler, allegedly began working on a new company while still employed at Magic Leap.
Magic Leap has attracted its fair share of attention, in part because of its secrecy, and also because it has so far attracted over a billion USD in investment from the likes of Alibaba and Google, valuing the company at around 4.5 billion USD.
So what do we know about them?
Up until now we already knew the company is working on a VR-style headset and imaging technology that allows users to overlay high-quality 3D imagery onto real life scenes. According to the company’s eccentric CEO, Rony Abovitz (who once dressed as an astronaut to deliver a TED talk), the technology “replicates” the field of light human experience in regular sight.
Following the lawsuit it’s clear the technology could have much more diverse applications: “Magic Leap’s Proprietary Technologies are not limited to its head-mounted virtual retinal display”, the lawsuit noted, “and extend to many different applications and devices, including, but not limited to, robotics.”
Before founding Magic Leap, Abovitz built a company specializing in medical robots called Mako, which went on to sell for $1.65 billion USD in 2013. Magic Leap is developing an optical chip using silicon photonics to bridge the gap between regular and virtual sight – it’s not difficult to see how the company’s technology could encroach on the field of robotics.