Expanding on its exclusive partnership with Magic Leap, AT&T is developing a version of DirecTV Now, its OTT-TV service, that will run on the startup's augmented reality platform and display up to four live video streams in the user's field of view.
Speaking Wednesday at the LEAPCon event in Los Angeles, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said AT&T has already created a working version of DirecTV Now for Magic Leap Inc. 's AR headset/platform and expects to launch it as an "enhancement" to the DirecTV Now offer sometime next year.
Donovan likened it to "live television without a television... It could radically reshape how you view television."
Here's the demo AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) showed at LEAPCon:
The DirecTV Now integration expands on an exclusive, retail-focused deal that AT&T and Magic Leap announced in July. AT&T, which also made a strategic investment in Magic Leap, will be the exclusive wireless distributor of Magic Leap consumer products in the US, with an initial focus on stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. (See AT&T Invests in Magic Leap, Strikes Exclusive Consumer Deal.)
Magic Leap began to take orders on the company's pricey ($2,295) One Creator Edition in August. Magic Leap's product for the mainstream, called Magic Leap Two, will support AT&T's forthcoming 5G network and launch with demo stations that will give consumers a chance to try before they buy. (See Magic Leap Jumps to the 5G Future.)
Donovan called Magic Leap an important part of AT&T's "5G story."
"This is a really big thing for AT&T, because if you think about what we do in networking, we're always looking for something that's going to take our network, from a user perspective, to another level," he said. "We want to go into these new frontiers."
Donovan also likened AT&T's exclusive deal with Magic Leap to the one it had with Apple for the launch of the original iPhone in 2007.
"This has a very similar feel," he said. "It has [that] feel, because it's a new platform."
Donovan is also hopeful that the connection with Magic Leap's platform and the apps and services it will spawn will help to drive network usage in the same way that it did with the smartphone.
According to Donovan, AT&T saw network usage surge 360,000% during an 11-year period that started with the debut of the iPhone.
"This feels a lot like it felt back in those early days," the AT&T exec said.
AT&T has plans to launch 5G in a dozen cities this year. It also announced that it is building a 5G "test zone" for Magic Leap's campus in Plantation, Fla., where developers and creators can test apps and services that tie together the network and Magic Leap's platform. (See AT&T Adds New 5G Cities, Names Infrastructure Vendors and AT&T: We're Not Only Focused on mmWave for 5G.)
"The 5G network is really starting to come to life right now," Donovan said.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading