These days, Star Wars fans are used to getting what they want: lots of well-planned books and comics, cool video games, and even movies full of decent dialogue and old school characters everyone loves. And now, it looks like you’ll never have to be away from Han Solo, C-3PO, or even obscure Star Wars characters no one really likes.
In fact, within the next few years, Uncle Owen could be walking into your kitchen, telling you that if you don’t finish making him breakfast by midday, there will be hell to pay! Pseudo-Star Wars holograms are coming, whether you want them or not.
As part of today’s Wired Business Conference, VR/augmented reality company Magic Leap announced its partnership with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic latest venture, ILMxLAB. As is the tradition of Magic Leap, a great deal of this AR technology is secretive, or as Wired puts it, “unrevealed.” Magic Leap isn’t saying exactly how all of these extremely realistic and seamless hologram-esque effects are being achieved, but if the video released today is any indication, it will be technology that is slightly better than the holographic communication seen in Star Wars.
In the demo, C-3PO and R2-D2 are walking around what looks to be someone’s living room, giving you all sorts of information about how they cant figure out how to pay Captain Solo’s debt off to Jabba the Hutt, which probably reminded some people about how they’re late on their cell phone bill. Convincingly, the droids look like they’re actually in this contemporary setting as three-dimensional holograms, that are also not holograms. What could this mean for Star Wars fans going forward?
The obvious short-term application is interactive next-level VR video games, but what about long-term? It’s fairly obvious the Star Wars brand is planning for a several decade-long domination of all of popular culture, so could this new Magic Leap/ILMxLab venture allow a Star Wars character to hang out with you indefinitely, and perhaps even develop its own personality and customized rapport with you? The Wired piece mentions that “neither company will officially acknowledge any specific experiences, or even when Magic Leap’s technology will be available to consumers.” The specific experience part is so nebulous and tantalizing, the mind sort of reels as to the implications. If C-3PO and R2-D2 can hang out in a living room, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping Kylo Ren from chilling at the bar with you complaining about how much he hates his dad.
Training to be a Jedi Knight with Yoda seems like the obvious way most Star Wars fans would go, but what if I want to party with Boss Nass and get down with the rest of my Gungans? If Magic Leap is creating a truly interactive experience, our relationship with Star Wars characters could escalate from fan-service to fan-controlled. Star Wars already feels like its something owned by the fans and not the creators.
Magic Leap & ILMxLaB say they want to bring “Star Wars off the screen and into the street.” For fans this could be awesome, but it could also be the first step for Star Wars making its own leap from simply a series very popular of films, to a permanent part of our everyday lives.