This leaked photo might show Magic Leap's augmented reality device prototype

A photo purporting to show a working prototype of Magic Leap's augmented reality device has leaked.

The device has been shrouded in mystery for years - Magic Leap raised half a billion dollars in investment funds in 2014, and released a demo video last year that amazed many, but we haven't seen even a sliver of a working machine, at least not until now.

The image was obtained by Business Insider from a source, and the device, which is supposed to be portable, is rough, to say the least.

Credit: Business Insider

Credit: Business Insider

Called PEQo - PEQ is the prototype's name, and the number seemingly refers to the iteration - you can make out a band that wraps almost completely around the wearer's head, and we guess there's some kind of lens (or there's supposed to be) in the front through which viewers see digital images overlain onto the real world. This design would be similar to Microsoft's HoloLens AR viewer.

The backpack-like case clearly holds computing parts, while BI says the pack in the person's left hand houses the battery. 

Small steps

Magic Leap's whole aim with its AR device is to create a product users can take with them anywhere and comfortably slip on, standing apart from other high-end VR and AR headsets on the market that require tethers to a PC. 

From this picture, Magic Leap still has a long way to go to achieve that goal, however BI says the image shows the device as it was in early January. Improvements have been introduced in the weeks since, according to the site's source.

Magic Leap is facing pressure after a scathing report from The Information said it may have "oversold" what its tech can do and suggesting that the capabilities the startup has shown off won't actually make it to a commercial product.

The company has a big board meeting scheduled next week, at which it's expected to demonstrate its working technology. At that time, the backpack will be replaced with belt packs, BI's source said, and the hardware will appear more finished.

Despite some apparent obstacles, Magic Leap looks to be plodding along with its AR mission. Many questions remain - including how well the device really works, how much it will cost, and when it will release - but it doesn't appear we'll have answers to those anytime soon.

You can check out the demo video Magic Leap released last year below:

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.