Us? Reverse engineer HoloLens? No way, not us, nuh-uh – Magic Leap

We do virtual reality, not fake reality, alternate-reality biz claims in lawsuit

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Comment Virtual reality clown Magic Leap did not try to reverse engineer Microsoft's HoloLens technology, the upstart stated in its lawsuit against Todd Keil, its former head of security.

In fact, Magic Leap doesn't even know why it had five HoloLenses in the first place. It certainly didn't open their boxes. Well, maybe it opened one. But it didn't reverse engineer it that's for sure, it just visually inspected, and briefly used it.

What Magic Leap definitely did not do was reject Keil's recommendation that the goggles be confiscated and returned to Microsoft.

Keil may have made that recommendation as soon as he learned about the rival augmented reality headsets' arrival at Magic Leap's US offices from an internal email, but Magic Leap did not tell its director of global security that a senior manager was going to retain one of the devices. That didn't happen.

Nor did Magic Leap try to spy on Keil after the incident. It was just "testing the integrity and proper functioning of Magic Leap’s security camera system" when the head of IT Eric Akerman installed a camera in Keil's office.

Sure, it removed the camera when Keil spotted it and complained. Get this: for some reason, Keil claimed it was an effort to spy on him!

Magic Leap has another explanation for Keil's objection to the camera. It's because Akerman "was able to demonstrate vulnerabilities in Magic Leap's security camera system by hacking into the system using the digital camera" – and that reflected badly on Keil.

"Mr Keil may have been upset with Mr Ackerman for exposing a security flaw for which Mr Keil was responsible," the lawsuit, filed in Texas this week, notes.

Mind reading

Ha, spying. Why would Keil say such things? Don't answer: Magic Leap reckons it knows what motivates him and what he's thinking. In fact, Magic Leap thinks it knows Todd Keil better than Todd Keil knows himself.

"Mr Keil’s performance in 2017 was so lackluster, and his lack of any sense of urgency and commitment so apparent, that certain co-workers began to wonder whether Mr Keil actually wanted to be terminated," the lawsuit wistfully suggested in what is a perfectly normal and reasonable assertion to see in a formal legal document. Yes, we're being sarcastic.

"From their perspective, he was simply 'phoning it in'," the lawsuit claims, while unfortunately forgetting to note who "they" are. It even has evidence of his state-of-mind: "One example of Mr Keil’s detachment in 2017 was his failure to even provide input into his own 2017 performance review."

Normally you'd give some credence to a seasoned computer security pro who has held senior positions at the US Departments of State and Homeland Security, who was a regional security manager at Texas Instruments, and whose former boss said he was "the best security officer I worked with during my 35-year career."

Not Magic Leap, though. It insists this same guy "recognized that his job performance at Magic Leap was generally regarded by his supervisors and co-workers as unsatisfactory."

Now, Keil hasn't actually said that, but Magic Leap knows that he knows and that's why it put it in a lawsuit.

Keil even imagined that being told to report to someone else lower down the management chain who had just been promoted above him was a demotion. It's a total coincidence that this reorganization occurred just a few months after the HoloLens incident that didn't, er, apparently happen.


While all this was going on in Keil's head, Magic Leap was appalled to discover that "his performance not only failed to improve, but instead deteriorated significantly in 2017, as he became more detached and less committed to the timely execution of his job responsibilities."

Keil didn't realize that he should just leave and be unsatisfactory elsewhere, says Magic Leap. No, instead, he "decided to take preemptive action and falsely pose as a victim of unfair employment practices."

But that wasn't the end for poor Magic Leap, no. Not content with insisting that Magic Leap return a rival's technology even when the company was going to do so anyway, not that it received the hardware, and still smarting from his imaginary demotion, Keil then had the audacity to seek a severance package – wait, sorry, "assert frivolous legal claims in an effort to extort millions of dollars."

And what were these claims? "He has baselessly asserted that he is the victim of retaliation for raising various issues with his superior."

Which is patently ridiculous because Magic Leap is one of the finest, most honest and wholly truthful companies you will ever come across. Yes, we're being sarcastic.

Sure, there was that time that the woman it hired to tackle sex discrimination, Tannen Campbell, sued the company for sex discrimination. The case was settled out of court.

And then there was that incident where two senior executives, Adrian Kaehler and Gary Bradski, told the company they wanted to create a new, unrelated startup, and were fired, had their shares and bonuses withdrawn, and were then sued for allegedly stealing trade secrets. The case was, again, settled out of court.

Magic Leap claimed in its previous legal filings that Kaehler and Bradski, just like Keil and Campbell, were "disgruntled employees."

Never fear

It's been seven years since the company was started and it has yet to launch a product. Just because its CEO said it would release its revolutionary headset in "early 2018" and then appeared on stage in early 2018 to say it would be available in spring 2018.

Just because no one outside of its Florida headquarters has seen its technology and anyone that has seen it has been forced to sign an NDA. Just because the company pretended that videos that it paid a Hollywood special effects company to produce were real demonstrations of its product. Just because there has never been a live demonstration of its gizmo.

Just because there is no sign of any manufacturing contracts. Just because there is still no pricing information, or launch information, or in fact any information about its technology. Just because its CEO continues to talk about his company's product in the most extraordinarily vague terms and refuses to discuss any specific details.

Just because of all that, there is absolutely no reason to disbelieve the company when it says its former security head is lying about the company attempting to reverse engineer a rival's product.

Yes, we're being sarcastic. We obviously have absolutely no doubt that it will release "Magic Leap One" this spring.

Incidentally, Thursday was the first day of spring. That means we have a maximum of three months from now to wait until Magic Leap proves the world wrong and produces a revolutionary new piece of technology. How exciting. ®

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