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谷歌重金投资Magic Leap 抢滩虚拟现实技术

更新时间  2022-12-31 00:25 阅读
本文摘要:If Google has its way, hammerhead sharks will swim through your office, elephants will fit in the palm of your hand and dragons will fly among the birds.如果事情欲了谷歌(Google)的心愿,那么双髻鲨就可以在你的办公室里游动,大象可以车站在你的手心里,龙也不会和群鸟一起飞翔。


If Google has its way, hammerhead sharks will swim through your office, elephants will fit in the palm of your hand and dragons will fly among the birds.如果事情欲了谷歌(Google)的心愿,那么双髻鲨就可以在你的办公室里游动,大象可以车站在你的手心里,龙也不会和群鸟一起飞翔。These fanciful visions are being dreamed up by Magic Leap, a start-up making augmented-reality technology. On Tuesday, it landed Google as its biggest investor.这些奇幻景象,是增强现实技术领域的初创企业Magic Leap的一些设想。本周二,谷歌出了该公司的仅次于投资者。

Valuing Magic Leap at about $2 billion, the $542 million cash infusion from Google and other investors immediately vaulted the shadowy start-up into the upper echelons of young technology companies.Magic Leap以20亿美元左右(约合120亿元人民币)的估值,从谷歌和其他投资者那里筹措到5.42亿美元的现金,马上让这个默默无闻的初创公司跻身年长技术公司中佼佼者的行列。But as is so often the case with tech start-ups, Magic Leap’s soaring valuation is based on little more than an ambitious vision and some nascent code. Magic Leap, which is based far from Silicon Valley in the suburbs of Miami, has no revenue — and no products currently on the market.但是,Magic Leap估值的攀升,基本上就是相结合于一个雄心勃勃的愿景和一些仍未成熟期的代码,除此之外别无他物。

在科技产业的初创公司里,这样的情况也很少见。Magic Leap靠近硅谷,坐落于在迈阿密郊区,没营收——而且也没早已面世的产品。

“Until we see the device, you have to be a little skeptical,” said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner who has worked with virtual reality for two decades.“在看见设备之前,认同不会有点猜测,”低德纳(Gartner)的分析师布莱恩·布劳(Brian Blau)说道,他在虚拟现实领域有20年的经验。Details about Magic Leap’s plans remain sketchy. The company declined requests for an interview on Tuesday. On its website, the company has a few videos and images that depict rich animations displayed over what people see with the naked eye. Seahorses float above children in a schoolroom. A yellow submarine hovers near an outdoor promenade. An astronaut walks through a train station.Magic Leap制订的计划,在细节上依然很粗略。本周二,该公司拒绝接受了专访催促。

Magic Leap的官方网站上,有几个视频和图片,内容是人们能用肉眼看见的非常丰富动画:教室里,海马飘浮在孩子们的头上;户外的步行街附近,一艘黄色潜水艇在飞过;火车站里,一名宇航员在行驶。So-called augmented reality technology already exists, but remains primitive. Google itself has gone further than any other company to bring this concept to market with Google Glass, its interactive spectacles.业界所说的“增强现实”(augmented reality)技术只不过早已不存在,只是依然正处于完整阶段。在把这个概念推向市场的过程中,谷歌本身就回头在了其他所有公司前面,它发售了交互式设备谷歌眼镜(Google Glass)。

But Magic Leap appears to have significantly broader aims, describing an ambitious vision for displaying rich interactive graphics alongside what people see naturally, using what it calls a dynamic digitized lightfield signal.但Magic Leap的目标或许要明确得多,它勾勒了一个雄心勃勃的愿景:用于它所说的“动态数字化光场信号”技术,把非常丰富的交互式图形,和人们本来就可以看见的东西悉数展出出来。“Current technologies we use to access the digital world limit, or even take us away, from the real world,” Magic Leap’s website reads.“我们目前用于的南北数字世界的技术,不会容许我们与现实世界的认识,甚至让我们脱离现实世界,”Magic Leap的网站上写到。

Google’s role as the lead investor is significant as it jockeys for position in a rapidly shifting technology industry.谷歌联合展开的这轮投资有最重要的意义,因为它正在一个较慢变化的科技行业中守住滩头。Just seven months ago, Facebook stunned Silicon Valley with the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus, a virtual reality company. Though the social network’s interest in the maker of a virtual reality headset was a surprise to many, Facebook believes Oculus can be a new sort of operating system as people continue to find new ways to interact with computers.就在七个月前,Facebook耗资20亿美元并购了虚拟现实技术公司Oculus,愤慨了硅谷。虽然Facebook对于这个虚拟现实头戴设备制造商的兴趣,出乎意料很多人的意料,但Facebook指出,在人们大大找寻新的方法来与计算机交互的时候,Oculus可以沦为一种新的操作系统。

Google views Magic Leap in much the same way, according to people briefed on the company’s thinking. As people become more comfortable with wearable technology, technologies like Magic Leap are likely to become more commonplace.“Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality and virtual reality,” Magic Leap’s founder and chief executive, Rony Abovitz, said in a statement. “We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”谷歌对Magic Leap的观点也大致相同,一些理解该公司思路的人透漏。随着人们更加习惯可穿着技术,像Magic Leap这样的技术就不会显得更为广泛。“Magic Leap打破了人们目前对移动计算出来、增强现实和虚拟现实的观点,”Magic Leap创始人兼任首席执行官罗尼·阿伯维茨(Rony Abovitz)在一份声明中说道。

“我们正在这三个方面展开打破,这将不会彻底改变人们的交流、购物、自学、共享和玩游戏的方式。”Bing Gordon, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, another investor in Magic Leap, said that augmented reality could become a new platform — one that he argued could outstrip mobile devices in popularity. He compared the potential advancements to the rise of cinema: a new way of seeing the world. In this case, the start-up’s technology allows highly realistic graphics to appear alongside real-life objects.凯鹏华盈(KPCB)是Magic Leap的另一位投资者,该公司合伙人宾·戈登(Bing Gordon)说道,增强现实将沦为一个新的平台,他指出,这种平台的人气有可能打破移动设备。戈登把增强现实的潜在影响和电影院的蓬勃发展相提并论,指出它们都获取了一种看世界的新方式。在Magic Leap的例子中,该公司是用技术,让十分细致的图形和现实生活中的物体一起经常出现。

The difference, according to Mr. Gordon, is that Magic Leap is better coordinated with how the human eye and brain process images, making the computer graphics feel, and move, more naturally.不同之处在于,戈登说道,Magic Leap能更佳地协商人眼和大脑处置图像的方式,让电脑图形的运动更加大自然,看上去也更加大自然。Augmented reality could obviously be used to enhance video games, something that Mr. Gordon, as a former executive of the game company Electronic Arts, is familiar with. But he argued that the technology could be applied to an array of other applications, creating a real-life equivalent to the magical newspaper from the “Harry Potter” books.很似乎,增强现实技术可以用作提高电子游戏,戈登曾是游戏公司艺电(Electronic Arts)的高管,对这个领域很熟知。但他指出,这项技术还可以有其他一系列用途,比如建构出有《哈利·波特》(Harry Potter)小说中那种魔法报纸似的东西。“For a while, we thought it was technically impossible, and then financially impossible,” he said. “Now it’s technically and financially possible.”“有一段时间,我们指出这在技术上不有可能做到,因此在经济上也是一条死路,”他说道。

“现在它在技术和经济上都是有可能的。”With more than $60 billion in the bank, Google cannot seem to find enough ways to invest its money. Google Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm, has invested in diverse companies including Blue Bottle Coffee and Uber, the on-demand taxi service.谷歌有多达600亿美元的现金,多到或许去找将近充足多的方法来投资手里的钱。谷歌风投(Google Ventures)是谷歌的风险投资部门,负责管理把资金投给各种公司,还包括蓝瓶咖啡(Blue Bottle Coffee)和按须要租车服务Uber。Google X, the company’s research division, is the hatchery for all kinds of “moonshots” including self-driving cars, a drone-based delivery service called Project Wing and, perhaps most notably, Google Glass.谷歌的研究部门Google X负责管理产卵各种奇思妙想,比如无人驾驶汽车、无人机仓储服务Project Wing,其中最引人瞩目的或许就是谷歌眼镜。

The tech giant has spent much of the last two years trying to gain entry to essentially everything with an Internet connection, through projects including the Open Automotive Alliance, intended to bring its Android operating system to cars, and its acquisition of Nest, a maker of Internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms.在过去两年中,这个科技巨头花上了很多时间,要让完全各种东西都相连到互联网上,它积极开展的项目还包括“对外开放汽车联盟”(Open Automotive Alliance),目的是将其Android操作系统配备到汽车上,它还并购了联网温控器和烟雾报警器制造商Nest。But the investment in Magic Leap comes from Google Inc., not one of its investment arms. This suggests that it is less concerned with the near-term business prospects of augmented reality than in forging a long-term strategic relationship with Magic Leap. Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for Android, Chrome and apps, will join the Magic Leap board.但Magic Leap取得的投资来自谷歌总公司,而不是它旗下的投资部门。

这指出,谷歌不过于关心的增强现实的短期业务前景,而是更加推崇与Magic Leap构成长年的战略合作关系。谷歌负责管理Android、Chrome和应用于业务的高级副总裁桑达尔·皮查伊(Sundar Pichai)将重新加入Magic Leap董事会。The investment represents a huge bet by Google and its consortium of investors. But such wagers are quickly becoming the norm for the likes of Google and Facebook, two companies not content to rest on their already hugely profitable existing business models.在这轮融资中,谷歌和其他投资者押下了一个极大的赌局。

但对于谷歌和Facebook这样的公司来说,这样的赌局于是以很快沦为常态;谷歌和Facebook都不符合于自身早已利润可观的现有业务模式。“They’re willing to take risks on the belief that their business will not be around forever,” Mr. Gordon said. “The great tech C.E.O.s are all simultaneously maxing out their current model while also looking around at future models and placing big bets.”“它们不愿承担风险,因为它们坚信,自己的业务模式不有可能仍然恒定,”戈登说道。“卓越的技术公司CEO都在一旁尽量地靠现有模式获得更加多收益,一旁四处寻找未来的模式,并且遣下大笔赌局。”Other investors in Series B, or the second major financing round, include Qualcomm Ventures, Legendary Entertainment, the private equity firm KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and Obvious Ventures.这次是Magic Leap的第二轮根本性融资,其他投资者还包括高通风险投资公司(Qualcomm Ventures)、传奇娱乐公司(Legendary Entertainment)、投资基金股权公司KKR、火神资本(Vulcan Capital)、凯鹏华盈、安德森·霍洛维茨(Andreessen Horowitz),以及Obvious Ventures。

The group, a consortium of some of the biggest names in venture capital and private equity, are all betting big money on “an eclectic group of visionaries, rocket scientists, wizards and gurus from the fields of film, robotics, visualization, software, computing and user experience,” as Magic Leap describes itself on its website.风险投资和投资基金股权界的一些大牌汇聚一堂,遣下大笔资金,反对一群“不拘一格的空想家、火箭科学家、巫师,以及电影、机器人、可视化、软件、计算机和用户体验领域的大师”,Magic Leap在自己的网站上写到。So far, however, augmented reality and virtual reality have remained more the stuff of science fiction than of the everyday Internet.但是迄今为止,增强现实和虚拟现实依然更好地经常出现在科幻小说中,而不是我们日常用于的互联网上。Google’s Glass, which essentially places a tiny computer screen on an eyeglass lens, is available for $1,500 in “open beta,” a public test of the device. Oculus does not have a product ready for buyers yet.谷歌眼镜实质上是在眼镜片上摆放了一个微小的电脑屏幕,它的“公测版”售价为1500美元,Oculus公司还没发售任何可可供出售的产品。

And even if Magic Leap or Oculus does create a compelling new computing platform, the next challenge will be convincing media and tech companies to create lots of content to keep users entertained.即使Magic Leap和Oculus显然建构了一个富有吸引力的新的计算出来平台,它们还不会面对下一个挑战,即劝说媒体和科技企业获取大量内容来讨好用户。“Virtual reality has been around for 20 years, and the one thing that has been consistent throughout this is that the technology is not mature enough,” Mr. Blau said. “Today there’s the possibility for that to change, but it’s going to take a while for these app developers to get it right.”“虚拟现实技术20年前就经常出现了,但仍然以来过于成熟期,”布劳说道。“如今,这种情况有可能会再次发生转变,但应用于开发人员必须一段时间来改良它。