What It Will Take for Augmented Reality to Become Our Reality
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What It Will Take for Augmented Reality to Become Our Reality

Peggy Johnson, CEO of AR goggle maker Magic Leap, talks about the real metaverse, how the tech is used on the job, and the innovation needed for non-nerdy glasses.

By Joanna Stern
Wed, Jun 1, 2022 11:52amGrey Clock 4 min

Metaverse. Metaverse. Metaverse.

Say it three times fast, and you’ll still be confused about the promise of this much-hyped digital world where we’ll apparently work, hang out and more.

Yet Peggy Johnson, chief executive of Magic Leap, can see it clearly. She doesn’t even have to put on the company’s high-tech headset.

Ms. Johnson, who took over the reins of the embattled startup in 2020, sees a future where we put on augmented-reality glasses and view digital information projected within our real world. No more would we be constantly sucked out of the world to stare at a screen in our hand or on our desk or wall.

(Reminder: While a virtual-reality headset blocks out the world so you can escape, augmented-reality goggles add a layer onto it. Think of the windshield heads-up display found in many cars today.)

After 25 years at Qualcomm, Inc. and then six more at Microsoft Corp. as its chief deal maker, the 60-year-old CEO redirected Magic Leap to focus on enterprise customers and business-use customers for its still nascent technology. The Magic Leap 2 headset, expected to ship later this year, is designed to be lighter than its predecessor, with better optics and audio.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to Ms. Johnson about the industries already making AR a reality and what it will take to get glasses that don’t look like a total nerd helmet.

Our lives are dominated by screens. Why do we need augmented-reality glasses?

Right now, we sit in a stationary spot, and we interact through a keyboard with a PC. Augmented reality is going to change that whole paradigm. You’ll be able to look at your physical world and interact with digital content that sits in your physical world. The opportunity is to have a heads-up view and be able to have useful tools embedded in your physical world that will help you get your job done. It’ll help you do things in shorter amounts of time because you’ll have these digital cues helping you.

Magic Leap headsets are already being used on the job. What industries are benefiting from AR?

We have a number of healthcare companies using it because it very precisely and accurately can place digital content in front of their eyes.

For instance, we have a company named Brainlab who’s using it. They scan an image of your brain, and a 3-D image of your brain is now in front of your eyes and it can be used as a pre-surgical planning tool. You can draw the surgical pathway that you want to take.

Another company called SentiAR creates live, interactive 3-D visuals of patient’s hearts during cardiac-ablation procedures, which are performed to correct heart-rhythm problems. Typically, that’s done with a surgeon feeding the tube in but looking at a 2-D screen. Now, they have the ability to map your heart—the actual live heart—in front of your eyes while they’re inserting the catheter, and that just improves accuracy, navigation abilities.

Beyond that, we have a variety of manufacturing scenarios. We think it’s going to be a real tool for the factory worker. You can almost think of it as a computer on their eyes. Their hands are still free to do their job but, for instance, the worker can walk up to a physical machine. Above it can be displayed digitally the statistics of the machine: The up time, the down time, there can be a red flag that says it’s time for maintenance.

With Magic Leap 2, you’ve made hardware improvements but it still requires you to wear a headset that’s attached to a mini-computer on your waist. What are the biggest roadblocks to getting to sleek-looking glasses?

To some degree, we think of this as an advantage. We’ve taken the heat and the weight and put it down on your waistband or your pocket. That has allowed us to make the headset only about 250 grams, about 20% lighter than our Magic Leap 1.

You can draw an analogy between AR and mobile phones. When they first came out, they were big and they got smaller over time. A lot of that was component reduction and silicon integration. So those two things have to happen. It’ll be a few years before we can get to an eyeglasses format. But clearly, that’ll open up a consumer market in a big way and that’s definitely what we’re focused on.

Speaking of consumers, what will be the killer app that gets us all wanting to put these types of devices on our faces?

Enterprise customers were really the first users of mobile phones. I was in that industry back then, and they wanted longer battery life, smaller, lighter, all of those things. So we’ll take all that feedback in and use it as we begin to design Magic Leap 3.

I do think—and particularly because we’re coming out of a pandemic and we’re living in a hybrid world—this idea of 3-D collaboration with others who may be in the room or maybe a continent away is going to be an application that drives consumer use. It could be talking to your grandma on the other coast or it could be talking to your co-workers. To make meetings come to life seems to be the thing that will really drive usage into a consumer format.

We’re hearing a lot about the promise of the metaverse. What’s your outlook on it all?

There are great use cases for virtual reality. A lot of them are around entertainment, training, that sort of thing. It’s somewhat limited because when you’re fully occluded, you’re limited and you can’t move around as easily.

When you can see your physical world and interact with the digital content, that’s the true promise of the metaverse. The technology should just blend in. I think the pandemic will push us more toward that because we have been heads-down for two years and on these little screens.

It’s 2030. What do your job and industry look like?

Maybe I don’t come to work. Maybe I put on my glasses and have meetings. We’re all sort of doing that now since the pandemic but the experience would just be a lot more natural, as if I’m actually in the room with people. The technology is headed there.

Hopefully that is the world we’ll be in in 2030 and we will be back to a heads-up world and not looking down at a little screen in our hands. Our hands will be free to interact with that digital content in our physical world.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 6, 2022.

 

 



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The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index reveals investments of passion are paying strong dividends, in some areas at least

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Apr 9, 2024 4 min

Art was the investment of passion that gained the most in value in 2023, according to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index (KFLII). This is the second consecutive year that art has risen the most among the 10 popular investments tracked by the index, up 11 percent in 2023 and 29 percent in 2022. Art was followed by 8 percent growth in jewellery, 5 percent growth in watches, 4 percent growth in coins and 2 percent growth in coloured diamonds last year.

The weakest performers were rare whisky bottles, which lost nine percent of their value, classic cars down six percent and designer handbags down four percent. Luxury collectables are typically held by ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) who have a net worth of US$30 million or more. Knight Frank research shows 20 percent of UHNWI investment asset portfolios are allocated to collectables.

In 2023, the KFLII fell for only the second time, with prices down 1 percent on average.

Despite record-breaking individual sales in 2023, a surge in financial market returns contributed to a shift in allocations impacting on luxury asset value,” the report said. “… our assessment reveals a need for an ever more discerning approach from investors, with significant volatility by sub-market.

Sebastian Duthy of AMR said the 2023 art auction year began with notable sales including a record price for a Bronzino piece. But confidence waned as the year went on.

“It was telling that in May, Sotheby’s inserted one of its top Old Master lots – a Rubens’ portrait – into a 20th Century Modern evening sale. But by then, it was clear that the confidence among sellers, set by the previous year’s record-busting figures, was ebbing away. In the same month, modern and contemporary works from the collection of the late financier Gerald Fineberg sold well below pre-auction estimates.”

The value of ultra contemporary or red-chip’ art contracted the most in 2023.

“Works by a growing group of artists born after 1980 have been heavily promoted by mega galleries and auction houses in recent years. With freshly painted works in excess of £100,000 almost doubling in 2022, it was little surprise that this sector was one of the biggest casualties last year. There is a risk there are now simply too many fresh paint artists with none really standing out.”

In the jewellery market, Mr Duthy noted that demand was strongest for coloured gemstones of exceptional quality, iconic signed period jewels, single-owner collections, and items with historic provenance in 2023. In the watches market, Mr Duthy said collectors chased the most iconic and rare timepieces.

A Rolex John Player Special broke the model record when it sold for £2 million at Sotheby’s in May, double the price for a similar example sold at Phillips in 2021,” he said.

Although whisky was the worst-performing collectable in 2023, it has delivered the highest return on investment among the 10 items tracked by the index over the past decade, up 280 percent. Andy Simpson of Simpson Reserved, said 2023 was a challenging year but the best of the best bottles gained 20 percent in value. In my opinion some bottles that lost significant value in 2023 will return through the next two years as they are simply so scarce and, right now at least, so undervalued, Mr Simpson said.

Whisky was the worst performing collectable in 2023 but it had highest return on investment over a 10-year period. Image: Shutterstock

Classic car expert Dietrich Hatlapa said the 6 percent fall in collectable vehicle values in 2023 followed a 22 percent surge in 2022. The strong performance of other investment classes such as equities may have dampened collectors’ appetites it’s a very small market so it only takes a minor change in portfolio allocations to have an effect, and there has also probably been a degree of profit taking. However, we have seen some marques like BMW (up 9 percent in value) and Lamborghini (up 18 percent), which appeal to a younger breed of collector, buck the trend in 2023.”

Mr Duthy said a dip in the share price of the top luxury handbag brands last Autumn appeared to spook investors. Last autumn it was possible to pick up an Hermès white Niloticus Himalaya Birkin in good condition for under £50,000. The recent slide reflects a general correction at the upper end that’s been underway for some time rather than changing attitudes to the harvesting of exotic skins.

According to Knight Frank’s Attitudes Survey, the top five investments of passion among Australian UHNWIs are classic cars, art and wine. Fine wine values gained just 1 percent in 2023 as the market continued its correction, said Nick Martin of Wine Owners. “It’s been a hell of a long run, so I’m not that surprised. Some wines from very small producers that had enjoyed the most exuberant growth have seen the biggest drops. It had got a bit silly, £50 bottles had shot up to £200 or £300.”

Favourite investments of passion: Australia vs Global

1. Classic cars (61 percent of Australian UHNWIs vs 38 percent of global UHNWIs)
2. Art (58 percent vs 48 percent)
3. Wine (48 percent vs 35 percent)
4. Watches (42 percent vs 42 percent)
5. Jewellery (18 percent vs 28 percent)

Best returns among investments of passion (10 years)

1. Whisky 280 percent
2. Wine 146 percent
3. Watches 138 percent
4. Art 105 percent
5. Cars 82 percent

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