After 6 years of long anticipation, Magic Leap, the secretive billion dollar startup has finally unveiled its first augmented reality headset. This mysterious new device is supposedly priced at $1000 and hosts a variety of interesting new features. Let’s take a look at why this company, which is notoriously known to work in the “stealth mode”, has been gaining so much popularity.
Magic Leap Origins
Magic Leap was founded in 2010, by Rony Abovitz, a tech-savvy American entrepreneur. He previously founded a company which manufactured surgical robotic arm assistance platforms. But it was not until October 2014, when the company started to make the rounds in news by receiving $540 million of venture funding from Google, Qualcomm, Andreessen Horowitz, and Kleiner Perkins, among other leading tech investors.
Some saw this funding as a desperate attempt from Google to match Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus, a virtual reality startup. This exaggerated valuation was based on little more than an ambitious vision of layering digital images on top of real-world objects with spatial glasses, and with no actual revenue or any products to show.
After a year of the initial round of fundings, Magic Leap released a couple of cool demos.
Just another day in the office at Magic Leap
Everyday Magic with Mixed Reality
Both these videos showcased augmented reality gaming and productivity applications. While the description in the first one mentioned that it was just a concept video that highlights the potential of augmented reality, the second video claimed that it was shot from the actual device without the use of any special effects.
These demos skyrocketed the popularity of Magic Leap creating huge anticipation among the users, developers, and investors alike. This hype attracted the likes of Alibaba and Disney to join hands with them in their quest for the next generation Augmented Reality device.
Product Announcement and Pricing
After 4 years of hype videos and almost 2 billion dollars in funding Magic Leap finally unveiled their first product called Magic Leap One Creator Edition. These headsets are specifically catered to developers and will start shipping later this year. The Creator Edition consists of three pieces of hardware:
Source: Magic Leap Official Website
- Lightwear: It’s the actual headset which uses “Digital Lightfield” display technology with multiple integrated sensors to gather spatial information.
- Lightpack: The core computing power of the headsets lies in the Lightpack, a circular belt-worn hip pack which is connected to the headset.
- Controller: It is a remote that contains buttons, six-degrees of freedom motion sensing, touchpad, and haptic feedback. The remote-shaped controller appears to be very similar to what we can see in Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream headset controllers.
Along with the headsets, Magic Leap also launched the Lumin SDK, the toolkit which allows developers to build AR experiences for Lumin OS, the operating system that powers the Magic Leap One headset. There’s more! Magic Leap has made their SDK available in both Unity and Unreal game engines. This would allow a wide range of developers to start creating augmented reality experiences for their respective platforms.
Although Magic Leap hasn’t shared any details on the exact pricing of the headsets, but if you go by what Rony Abovitz said in an interview, the price of the headset would be similar to that of a “Premium Computer”. He also mentioned that the company is planning to develop high-end devices for enterprises as well as lower-end versions for the common masses.
Product trial shrouded in secrets
Magic Leap, since their inception, have been claiming to revolutionize the AR/VR space with their mysterious technology. They boast that their proprietary features like “Digital Lightfield” and “Visual Perception” would solve the long-standing problem of dizziness caused due to the continuous use of these headsets. Still, a lot of specifications are missing, like the field of view, or the processing power of the Lightpack processor.
To add to the ambiguity, Magic Leap released a long list of security clauses for the developers who want to try out their products, some almost asking the developers to “lock away the hardware”. But this isn’t stopping the investors from pouring in more funds. Magic Leap just received another $461 million dollars from a Saudi Arabia sovereign investment arm. The uncertainty will only be cleared when the headsets become production ready and reach the consumers. Until then the hype remains…
To know more about other features of Magic Leap One, check out their official webpage.