All posts in “Magic Leap”

Teardown of Magic Leap One reveals highly advanced placeholder tech

The screwdriver-happy dismantlers at iFixit have torn the Magic Leap One augmented reality headset all to pieces, and the takeaway seems to be that the device is very much a work in progress — but a highly advanced one. Its interesting optical assembly, described as “surprisingly ugly,” is laid bare for all to see.

The head-mounted display and accompanying computing unit are definitely meant for developers, as we know, but the basic methods and construction Magic Leap is pursuing are clear from this initial hardware. It’s unlikely that there will be major changes to how the gadget works except to make it cheaper, lighter, and more reliable.

At the heart of Magic Leap’s tech is its AR display, which overlays 3D images over and around the real world. This is accomplished through a stack of waveguides that allow light to pass along them invisibly, then bounce it out towards your eye from the proper angle to form the image you see.

The “ugly” assembly in question – pic courtesy of iFixit.

The waveguide assembly has 6 layers: one for each color channel (red, blue, and green) twice over, arranged so that by adjusting the image you can change the perceived distance and size of the object being displayed.

There isn’t a lot out there like this, and certainly nothing intended for consumer use, so we can forgive Magic Leap for shipping something a little bit inelegant by iFixit’s standards: “The insides of the lenses are surprisingly ugly, with prominent IR LEDs, a visibly striated waveguide “display” area, and some odd glue application.”

After all, the insides of devices like the iPhone X or Galaxy Note 9 should and do reflect a more mature hardware ecosystem and many iterations of design along the same lines. This is a unique, first-of-its-kind device and as a devkit the focus is squarely on getting the functionality out there. It will almost certainly be refined in numerous ways to avoid future chiding by hardware snobs.

That’s also evident from the eye-tracking setup, which from its position at the bottom of the eye will likely perform better when you’re looking down and straight ahead rather than upwards. Future versions may include more robust tracking systems.

Another interesting piece is the motion-tracking setup. A little box hanging off the edge of the headset is speculated to be the receiver for the magnetic field-based motion controller. I remember using magnetic interference motion controllers back in 2010 — no doubt there have been improvements, but this doesn’t seem to be particularly cutting edge tech. An improved control scheme can probably be expected in future iterations, as this little setup is pretty much independent of the rest of the device’s operation.

Let’s not judge Magic Leap on this interesting public prototype — let us instead judge them on the farcically ostentatious promises and eye-popping funding of the last few years. If they haven’t burned through all that cash, there are years of development left in the creation of a practical and affordable consumer device using these principles and equipment. Many more teardowns to come!

iFixit cracks open the $2,295 Magic Leap One to inspect its guts

The folks at iFixit have finally got their hands on Magic Leap’s long-awaited augmented reality headset. And as usual they’re taking it apart to check out what powers this device, except this time they’re saving you a hefty $2,295 in the process.

Magic Leap was founded in 2010 and has raised more than a billion dollars from some heavy-hitters in the tech industry like Google, Qualcomm, and Alibaba. But it wasn’t until just this month that the company started shipping its first product, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition. 

“The Magic Leap One’s mixed-reality tech has been so much pie in the sky for so long, we can hardly believe we have it on our teardown table” points out iFixit in their breakdown. “Based on the amount of money raised for this project, we’re hoping it’s powered by pixie dust—but only a teardown will tell.”

iFixit’s breakdown of the headset finds 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, as well as the Nvidia Tegra X2 SoC, which they point out is most often found in self-driving cars. Infrared sensors to track eye movement as well as lenses with 6 layers — one for each color channel on two separate focal planes.

The Magic Leap One’s “Lightpack,” which is a small wearable computer that powers the headset, is also dissected unveiling its battery, cooling power, and a number of chips by companies such as NVIDIA and Samsung. iFixit also breaks down how the headset tracks the location of the device’s handheld controller via magnetic copper coils.

The experts at iFixit ended up settling on a fairly low grade for the device citing things such as “intense glue barriers,” battery location, and lack of upgradability. With all this in mind, iFixit saddled the Magic Leap One with a 3 out of 10 repairability score. But, as we’ve previously pointed out, at this price level, the device is clearly aimed at developers interested in building on the Magic Leap platform.

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Magic Leap’s ultra-hyped AR headset is finally available

After many years of hype around a product that was unseen, Magic Leap opened the curtain to unveil the Magic Leap One last month.

Today, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition goes on sale for $2,295. But this is still far from a consumer release — the pricey kit is aimed at developers who want to make content for the new platform.

The system includes the company’s Lightwear augmented-reality headset, a tiny Lightpack computer, and a controller. While anyone can order one, the price will likely limit it to early adopters, and it’s only available to ship to certain cities, since the deal includes a hand delivery and a personal setup.

Right now the apps for it are limited and aren’t on the same par as a giant whale jumping out of a gym floor (an early graphical tease from the company). There are only a few games currently out, though more should come as developers get their hands on the system. Magic Leap has a big vision for the future of spatial computing (AKA mixed reality).

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While developers can get one now, the bigger question is: When will the consumer version launch, and how much will it cost? 

That’s still unclear, but it will likely have a similar design with a headset that looks like high-tech swimming googles. It is impressive that the computer can fit in such a compact puck, which you clip onto your bag or jacket. From the look of it, Magic Leap’s untethered experience doesn’t seem half bad, but I’m still skeptical of the quality as I haven’t had the chance to try it yet.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition includes the headset, computer, and controller.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition includes the headset, computer, and controller.

Image: Magic Leap

The promise of Magic Leap heavily depends on developers who can grow the platform and release more apps and content for it. It will likely be an uphill battle with heavy competition from Microsoft’s HoloLens. At the same time, Apple and Google are pushing their own AR experiences with SDKs and hardware features like the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera. That said, Magic Leap has plenty of capital behind it, and in July AT&T signed up to be the exclusive retailer of the headset.

We look forward to seeing what developers and early adopters make for the Magic Leap.

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Magic Leap One AR headset for devs costs more than 2x the iPhone X

It’s been a long and trip-filled wait but mixed reality headgear maker Magic Leap will finally, finally be shipping its first piece of hardware this summer.

We were still waiting on the price-tag — but it’s just been officially revealed: The developer-focused Magic Leap One ‘creator edition’ headset will set you back at least $2,295. So a considerable chunk of change — albeit this bit of kit is not intended as a mass market consumer device but is an AR headset for developers to create content that could excite future consumers.

The augmented reality startup, which has raised at least $2.3 billion, according to Crunchbase, attracting a string of high profile investors including Google, Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz and others, is only offering its first piece of reality bending eyewear to “creators in cities across the contiguous U.S.”.

Potential buyers are asked to input their zip code via its website to check if it will agree to take their money but it adds that “the list is growing daily”.

We tried the TC SF office zip and — unsurprisingly — got an affirmative of delivery there. But any folks in, for example, Hawaii wanting to spend big to space out are out of luck for now…

Magic Leap specifies it will “hand deliver” the package to buyers — and “personally get you set up”.

So evidently it wants to try to make sure its first flush of expensive hardware doesn’t get sucked down the toilet of dashed developer expectations.

It describes the computing paradigm it’s seeking to shift, with the help of enthused developers and content creators, as “spatial computing” — but it really needs a whole crowd of technical and creative people to step with it if it’s going to successfully deliver that.

At long last, Magic Leap’s headset finally has a ship date

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.

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