After years of secrecy, Magic Leap has finally announced the Magic Leap One, an augmented reality headset that will launch in 2018.
The headset is powered by a "lightpack" processing unit that the user wears around their waist, and the package also comes with a wand-like controller that features haptic feedback and six degrees of freedom.
The Magic Leap One is aimed at developers and early adopters, and is designed to be able to be worn for hours at a time. It uses Magic Leap’s proprietary Digital Lightfield technology alongside environment mapping, precision tracking and soundfield audio to create lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world.
“This advanced technology allows our brain to naturally process digital objects the same way we do real-world objects, making it comfortable to use for long periods of time,” the Magic Leap site states.
According to Magic Leap, the headset will allow users to browse 3D objects online (which is potentially very handy for things like online shopping), create multiple displays within the headset, connect with others in digital space, and – of course – game.
Kiwi company Weta Workshop is working on a game for the system, which will take place within the universe of Dr. Grordbort, created by Weta concept designer Greg Broadmore.
According to Glixel, there are about 55 people working on the game, which has been in development for five years.
It is a first-person shooter that has the player shooting robots that pour in the room from portals on your walls. It will lunch alongside the Magic Leap One next year.
Glixel’s Brian Crecente recently went hands-on with the One, sampling a theme park ride, a virtual assistant, and more.
Crecente appears to have come away impressed with its not-quite-photorealistic virtual creations – which are real enough to your brain that they obscure people walking behind them – but he also had a couple of concerns.
“To see the physical world around me, and then those creations appearing not on it, as if some sort of animated sticker, but in it, was startling,” he wrote.
And later: “I was surprised to find that the closer I got to the robot, to an extent, the more detailed it became. Getting up close to the floating object didn’t expose pixels, it highlighted details I wasn’t able to see from afar. If I got too close, though, it sort of disappeared or I was suddenly inside the thing.”
Still later: “The goggles were so comfortable you almost forget you’re wearing them. The computer attachment fits neatly into my pocket, and its tether to the headset never got in my way. The controller felt intuitive almost immediately. The sound was both accurate and powerful. But I had one concern: The field of view.”
According to Crecente, the One’s field of view is “about the size of a VHS tape held in front of you with your arms half extended” (what), but Magic Leap is working to improve it significantly before the product’s launch.
Apparently Magic Leap experimented with a horror experience for the One, but it was too terrifying – “almost life-threateningly scary”, according to founder Rony Abovitz – so it was shelved. Sounds like that "Playtest" episode of Black Mirror will be a reality before we know it.
Magic Leap was founded in 2011, and has raised a staggering US$1.9 billion in investment to date.
Technology like the One “is moving us toward a new medium of human-computing interaction,” Creative Technologies creative director David Nelson told Ars Technica.
"It's the death of reality."
A price and release date for the One are yet to be announced.