Technology

Can Magic Leap treat color blindness? Patent applications focus on eye conditions

Rony Abovitz founded Magic Leap, a mixed reality technology company in Plantation.
Rony Abovitz founded Magic Leap, a mixed reality technology company in Plantation. Miami Herald File

The mysterious Magic Leap’s recent patent applications describe a wearable device that uses augmented reality to treat color blindness, macular degeneration and other eye conditions.

The South Florida technology company’s most recent patent application describes “an augmented reality head-mounted ophthalmic system comprising a wearable augmented reality display platform” that would be “configured to pass said light from the world into an eye of a wearer” and says the “wearable augmented reality device is configured to selectively modify said light from the world based on a color detection deficiency of the wearer,” the Sun Sentinel reported.

The device inventors, according to the application: Rony Abovitz, founder and CEO of Magic Leap; Brian Schowengerdt, co-founder and chief science and experience officer; Nicole Elizabeth Samec, a biomedical engineer; John Graham Macnamara, senior creative scientist; Mark Baerenrodt, healthcare business leader; and Christopher M. Harrises of Nashua, N.H. The application concerning color blindness, which afflicts 5 to 10 percent of the world population, is the latest in a series of patent filings concerning the eyes.

The company, with a campus in Plantation and offices in Dania Beach, has filed more than 200 patent applications in diverse industries since it began operation in 2011. These are not the first patent filings that have suggested healthcare uses; early applications suggested uses as diverse as heart surgery or patient recovery, suggesting the technology could impact areas as diverse as gaming, tourism, retail and education.

The secretive Magic Leap has raised nearly $1.4 billion from Google, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and other investors, more than any other company in South Florida, and has recently committed to creating 725 jobs in Broward County. The company has not released details of its first product or when it will be launched, but in recent months it has faced a flurry of negative tech press suggesting that the company is having difficulties.

Magic Leap has described its technology as “a new mixed reality computing platform that will enable people to interact with the world in ways never before possible.” Abovitz has said Magic Leap’s technology could have many uses beyond entertainment, including in the healthcare field. University of Miami alumus Abovitz co-founded Mako Surgical in Broward County.

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