All posts in “Mixed Reality”

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.

HoloLens 2 will reportedly address the biggest criticism of the first model

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Back in 2016 Microsoft entered the augmented-reality game with HoloLens, a headset that delivered a true mixed reality, combining the real world with virtual images on a transparent display.

Developers and early adopters quickly realized that, while HoloLens was promising, it was being held back by its small field of view. However, this will reportedly change with the second generation of the hardware.

The Verge reports Microsoft is planning to unveil HoloLens 2 by the end of the year. Codenamed Sydney (a name first revealed by Thurrott), the new model will apparently address the biggest criticism of the current HoloLens: its limited field of view. HoloLens 2 will improve things, the report says, but it’s unclear by how much. 

HoloLens 2 should have the latest Kinect sensor onboard as well as a proprietary artificial intelligence chip. Both of these should improve the visuals and latency, creating a more immersive mixed-reality experience.

While details are still scarce, the second-generation headset will be built around an ARM-based processor (the current model uses a discontinued Intel chip), which could bring better battery life, allowing users to be in the mixed reality for a longer period of time. 

There will likely be a larger focus on consumers with the new model. So far HoloLens has mostly been a developer and enterprise play, and it carries a high price tag ($3,000 for the developer edition, $5,000 for the commercial “suite”). Hopefully the second generation will be more affordable, bringing the tech to a new class of customers.

Microsoft is expected to unveil HoloLens 2 by the end of the year, but don’t expect to your hands on one until 2019.

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LiveMap shows off latest prototype of augmented reality motorcycle helmet


LiveMap launched in TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield CES 2014 and is getting closer to producing its augmented reality helmet. Since launching, the product has evolved to a working prototype. I tried it on at CES and it seemed to work fine.

The current version of helmet features a small transparent screen mounted on the visor. A small projector is mounted in the chin of the helmet. The software projects directions, maps and notifications onto the screen, but in the final version it will be directly onto the visor, the company said.

Andrew Artishchev the founder of LiveMap told TechCrunch at CES 2018 his company has enough runway to certify the helmet for use in America and enter production. He insists that his company has the proper design and management to get LiveMap certified and on the market. LiveMap is targeting a US launch.

“We are pleased to be still in business due to perseverant testing, development, retesting,” Artishchev said, adding, ” and a thorough understanding experience of all the problems and challenges involved in designing and constructing a complex, innovative product capable of operating in such variable and potentially hostile environments.”

LiveMap is not the only company trying to produce an augmented reality helmet. Others like Skully and BMW have examples but have yet to have one hit the market.

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Pokémon Go creator raises $200 million ahead of Harry Potter game launch


Pokémon Go creator Niantic has raised a new $200 million in funding, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Series B raise was led by Spark Capital, and includes participation from Founders Fund, Meritech, Javelin Venture Capital, You & Mr. Jones and NetEase, Inc. Spark partner Megan Quinn is also joining Niantic’s board as part of the new financing deal.

Niantic is known for its augmented reality games, which began with the multiplayer sci-fi spy game Ingress, created during the company’s time as an internal startup founded within Google. In 2015, Niantic spun out as its own entity, and it launched Pokémon Go in July, 2016. The Pokémon AR game managed to attract massive interest at launch, resulting in huge real-world gatherings of players thanks to its mechanic of incentivizing players to move around in the real world to achieve in-game success.

In its Series A round, Niantic raised $30 million in funding from an investor group including Alsop Loui Partners, Google, Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, Cyan and Scott Banister and others. Earlier this year, Niantic announced its first acquisition, of mobile social network developer Evertoon, and it also recently made official its intent to build a mobile AR game based on Harry Potter.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is due out sometime next year, and will be developed in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive.