After more than three years, Magic Leap has unveiled what it describes as a “creator edition” of its augmented reality system. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized cyberpunk-y goggles, a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack, and a handheld controller. It’s supposed to accept “multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking,” and maps persistent objects onto the environment — “place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it,” the site promises. An SDK is supposedly coming in early 2018, and the hardware is supposed to ship at some point next year.
Magic Leap invited Rolling Stone to try out some demos, which include virtual characters that can react to eye contact, a floating virtual comic book, and a virtual live performance using volumetric camera capture. The piece seems to refute rumors that Magic Leap was having difficulty shrinking its technology to goggle size while keeping performance up, saying that “there was no stuttering or slowdowns, even when I walked around the performance, up close and far away.”
According to Rolling Stone, Magic Leap will offer two sizes of the goggles, with the option of custom forehead, nose, and temple pads. It’s also supposedly working on getting prescription lenses built into models.
The Lightpack can clip to a belt or shoulder pad, and Abovitz says that it’s similar in power to a MacBook Pro or an Alienware gaming PC, with a dedicated graphics card. There’s supposed to be another lower-powered computer in the goggles, which handles world detection and includes some kind of machine learning capabilities. It includes four built-in microphones and at least six external cameras, and provides built-in speakers, similar to Microsoft HoloLens. The headset still sounds a lot like HoloLens, to be honest, but it’s supposed to have a larger — albeit still limited — field of view, and be very comfortable.
We still don’t know the price or an exact ship date of the Magic Leap One, and although Abovitz is adamant that it will ship in 2018, the company has made similar promises before — it was supposed to ship an SDK all the way back in 2015, for instance. But hopefully, this is the start of Magic Leap offering real, publicly accessible examples of the technology that people have raved about for years.