Despite Magic Leap-Lucasfilm Partnership, AR 'Star Wars' Might Be a Ways Off

It’s still in the proof-of-concept phase. But we’re sold.


With each passing month, we learn a little bit more about Magic Leap, the most hyped augmented reality startup around. Today, we learn of its partnership with Lucasfilm. Together, the two companies say that they’ll bring AR Star Wars content inside your home. While we can expect that they do mean business, anyone who’s keeping an eye on Magic Leap knows that this is yet another teaser from a company built on mountain of teasers.

Regardless, these videos — like all Magic Leap videos — are pretty enthralling. C-3PO and R2D2 are in the viewer’s apartment, inviting him or her into the narrative, projecting a nearby danger zone on the coffee table. The Millennium Falcon takes off at warp speed through the wall. But how soon can we expect this tech, and this experience, in our own apartments?

If we’re to take Magic Leap’s word for it, it won’t be that long. The press release today announcing this “strategic partnership” — between Magic Leap, Lucasfilm, and Lucasfilm’s year-old company ILMxLAB — touts just how strategic a partnership it is. Lucasfilm has long been the leading force in advancing cinema with new, captivating technological capabilities. Now, those new technological capabilities are AR.

John Gaeta, executive creative director at ILMxLAB, for one, is excited. “We are pushing into an era of experiential, persistent and perceptual storytelling,” he writes in the press release. “We want people to step inside our stories, and we want those stories to react back to people in deeply compelling ways.” Star Wars does indeed seem to be an ideal crossover, but it’s worth noting that this is fresh and unexplored territory. Just as when Mr. Skywalker lands on Dagobah in Empire Strikes Back. “However, before magical realism becomes a seamless part of everyday life…” — before Luke finds Yoda — “it needs some advanced prototyping,” Gaeta explains.


That prototyping looks to be well underway. Last year, Lucasfilm launched ILMxLAB, and, with it, released a video. In it, you see that its employees are all eager to bring about the next wave of experiential storytelling via technological innovations.

Then, in March, ILMxLAB released a video called “Join the Force!” This video demonstrated how ILMxLAB was experimenting with AR, VR, and immersive Star Wars storytelling.

With today’s partnership announcement, Magic Leap naturally released its own video. As with its previous demo teasers, it’s simply a scene shot through a Magic Leap headset. (Which headset, we should note, looks like it would itself fit in a Star Wars movie.) It’s a proof-of-concept, but it’s a strong enough concept that shut up and take my money feels once again apt.

We still don’t have a strong sense as to when we might be able to get our hands on these headsets. But a simple glance at their job postings indicates that we can expect a lot more from the nascent AR company. Still, we should keep a close eye on its progress: its patents are pretty shady.

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