Augmented-reality startup Magic Leap unveiled its new AI during a conference on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
Dubbed Mica, the virtual assistant can be seen through the startup’s augmented reality glasses called Magic Leap One.
Mica can be used to turn on or off smart home devices such as TVs, stereo systems, and lights. It can also answer detailed questions such as a person’s favorite songs from a concert attended one year ago, albeit the company did not explain how the AI learns this information.
One of the most impressive things about the newly unveiled AI is that it looks and acts like a human. CNN reported that the AI looks very realistic that people can mistake her for an actual human. Mica makes eye contact, offers a smile, and shows other human-like expressions.
Magic Leap’s vice president of human-centered AI John Monos said that when Mica smiled, people smile back. When Mica yawns, a contagious social behavior, Magic Leap’s test subjects yawned too.
“These incredibly visceral reactions to Mica completely realigned our priorities. Our goal is nothing short of the most realistic human experience in spatial computing,” Monos said.
VentureBeat correspondent Dean Takahashi, who was invited for a demo of the AI in augmented reality, described Mica as a short-haired woman who does not speak, but manages to communicate warmly with the viewer.
Takahashi said he saw Mica sitting at the table when he put on the AR glasses on his head. He described how the AI was not just looking at him, but was in fact looking in his eyes and tilting her head from side to side. The AI did not talk during their encounter, but this feature is coming in the future.
“When I noticed how attentive she was, I moved my head forward and looked in her eyes,” Takahashi wrote about his experience.
“She did the same and looked at me. I moved my head back and she moved her head back too. She was mimicking some of the movements that she saw me make.”
Experts said that the AI is a breakthrough in realistic avatars and may have important implications for society, potentially influencing things such as human health and education.
Magic Leap did not say when it expects people to experience Mica, or something equivalent.
University of Washington Reality Lab director of research and education Aditya Sankar, however, said that in a couple decades, it could be common for people to wake up, put their augmented reality glasses, and see their own Mica.