In addition to its own work, Magic Leap also sought out developer missionaries — people who believed that AR was the next stage of computing (and who didn't mind working with new technology before its fully polished). The company launched its first developer program in July of 2017, and since then it's provided hardware to hundreds of creators across industries like architecture, medical imaging, healthcare, government and, of course, gaming. He was surprised to see some large companies come aboard, as well — both the NBA and the New York Times have AR apps available at launch. And on top of all of that, the company has teamed up with notable creatives like sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, who serves as its "chief futurist," and Steven Spielberg.
"We're trying to build a unique place," Caraeff said. Some companies focus entirely on technology and efficiency, with the hopes of scaling as much as possible, he noted. And on the other end of the spectrum are companies focused on nurturing artists and creativity. "We're trying to build a unique company that really is creator first, developer first, really trying to be more like the earlier warmth and intimacy of artistry companies."
When Caraeff first joined the company, founder and CEO Rony Abovitz said he wanted Magic Leap to be like the legendary independent label Island Records in the late '70s and early '80s, when it featured the likes of Bob Marley and U2. Abovitz wants the company to nurture relationships with artists and creators in a similar way — Caraeff's challenge is to do so while juggling everything else Magic Leap needs to do as a technology company. He acknowledges that normal consumers don't care as much about technology as they do about the TV show or movie they're watching. By working with artists, Magic Leap wants to constantly remind itself of that truth.
Looking ahead, Magic Leap plans to have its developer and creator conference in Los Angeles on October 9th and 10th. It'll be the first chance for the company to truly gather its community together. In addition to going over every aspect of their technology, Magic Leap also plans to highlight its existing developers and partners. In particular, that includes its relationship with Unity and Fortnite creator Epic, whose 3D engines are used to build AR experiences. As with most developer conferences, there will be a keynote (that's also live-streamed to the public) and a combination of technical and experiential sessions. The company plans to open registration for the conference soon.
"[Magic Leap One] is not the kind of product that everybody on the planet knows what it is, or why they need it, and so it's very hard to just kind of put it on the shelf at the store and hope people buy it," Caraeff said. "What matters is you gotta get people to try it. Once people try it, they say, "Ah, I understand what this is, I can see this now."