Magic Leap’s new AR headset is rolling out to healthcare companies

Augmented reality headset maker Magic Leap has announced early partners for its Magic Leap 2 headset — a signal that the once consumer-focused company is still moving ahead with its enterprise-focused business.

In a press release today, Magic Leap named four healthcare partners that are getting access to the device: clinical data visualization company SentiAR, neurotechnology company SyncThink, diagnostics company Heru, and surgical software tool Brainlab. The Magic Leap 2 is slated for more general release in mid-2022. It’s a smaller, lighter follow-up to the Magic Leap headset that debuted in 2018; in an interview with Bloomberg, Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson said it would be “slightly” pricier than its predecessor, which starts at $2,295.

Johnson tells Bloomberg that Magic Leap sees potential for buyers in “industries that are used to wearing something on their eyes,” a category including surgeons and manufacturing workers. Magic Leap is also interested in military customers who could use the headsets for training; the company previously pursued a US Army contract that eventually went to Microsoft’s competing HoloLens headset.

Magic Leap raised billions of dollars as a consumer headset company, but the company downscaled its plans rapidly — and replaced its previous CEO Rony Abovitz with Johnson — in 2020 amid significant layoffs. It’s reportedly considered acquisition offers from other companies, allegedly including the major healthcare player Johnson & Johnson, but ultimately raised $500 million in funding for enterprise applications last year. If Magic Leap pivoted back to the consumer market, it could find itself competing with more established brands, including Snap and Meta, formerly known as Facebook.

However, the company is apparently “absolutely” open to returning — although Johnson says that AR technology would have to become smaller and its potential applications more compelling to be worth the shift.

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