- The National Basketball Association (NBA) unveiled an app for the Magic Leap One augmented reality (AR) headset that lets wearers watch live games on virtual screens, Magic Leap announced. The app shows games, replays, highlights, team information and player statistics on multiple computer-generated displays.
- To see live games, viewers need an NBA League Pass or NBA Single-Game subscription, but the app also has a catalog of free, on-demand content for Magic Leap One users. The NBA app lets viewers watch live games and on-demand video on separate screens that can be virtually pinned throughout a headset wearer's surroundings.
- The NBA collaborated with Magic Leap and broadcaster Turner Sports to develop the NBA App on Magic Leap.
The rollout of the NBA App on Magic Leap comes more than a year after the organizations announced that they were working together to make broadcast events more interactive to appeal to younger viewers. Hardcore basketball fans who watch games while browsing their smartphones for statistics or to share commentary on social media may appreciate a technology that combines multiple screens into a single, immersive viewing experience.
Magic Leap needs more content like interactive apps and live sporting events to make its pricey AR headsets more appealing to a broader consumer base. The "creator edition" of Magic Leap's headset costs $2,295, and appears to target a specialized group of software developers more than average consumers. News broadcasters CNN and Cheddar also have created apps for Magic Leap that let viewers see their shows across several virtual screens.
As AR technology evolves, it may replace TV viewing for some people, but currently, most AR viewing experiences are two-dimensional and not very different than watching traditional TV, as ZDNet notes. Producers will have to invest heavily to boost the production value of AR content that adds value to viewers and gives them the sensation of being truly immersed in virtual surroundings.
Magic Leap this year may face more competition in the AR headset market as Apple introduces a consumer-focused AR device that's been rumored for several years. The first generation of AR-enhanced glasses will display digital images on a real background seen through its lenses, while the processing power, internet connection and location services will come from a nearby iPhone. Similarly, Microsoft has touted the capabilities of its latest AR headset built for enterprises and developers. Consumer versions of AR headsets also are in the works as the prototypes of Project Aurora and Nreal Light demonstrated at CES 2019.