After almost four years of hype and billions of dollars in funding, Magic Leap finally has a ship date for the first version of its augmented reality headset.
The Magic Leap One will begin shipping to developers later this summer, the company announced Wednesday.
Following news of a fresh round of funding and an exclusive deal with AT&T, the headset’s creators hosted a live stream to announce that the long awaited ship date would be coming soon. And while there’s still no word on an exact time frame, knowing it’s coming this summer is better than nothing — especially since the company had previously promised an “early 2018” release.
Magic Leap also used the live stream as an opportunity to show off a new AR demo of the technology. Though the pre-recorded demo didn’t show the actual headset, we did see some mixed reality content coupled with a few hand gestures.
Not all viewers were impressed with the demo, though. After flashy concept videos that promised mind-blowing immersive AR, these demos looked a little more like other augmented reality experiences.
Still, these are early demos and the Magic Leap Creator noted they don’t convey the full experience of using the headset. Regardless, shipping to developers will be an important milestone for the secretive startup, which has had a tumultuous couple of years.
After generating lots of early hype thanks to flashy concept videos and a multibillion-dollar valuation, excitement began to falter. A report in the Information claimed some employees were concerned the company had oversold its technology. Then, Business Insider published a photo of an early prototype that showed a junky-looking backpack-mounted system.
By the time the company showed off images of the final design last year, it was mocked for its ugly steampunk-meets-spider-eyes look.
That criticism may not end up mattering, assuming the developer release goes well and Magic Leap can keep the hype train going long enough for a consumer-ready product (a big if). But that fact that real life humans and non-Magic Leap employees will soon be able to hold and use their own headsets is certainly a step in the right direction.
Now we just have to wait to find out if the hype is real.