The Magic Leap One is a futuristic pair of augmented reality (AR) glasses, designed to enhance your world with digital objects while still letting you interact with everything real that's going on around you.
We now have lots more details about the Magic Leap One, thanks to a presentation by the Florida-based startup in June 2018. We've outlined what we learned from the stream below, but know that this pair of AR glasses is moving along nicely and is on pace to meet its 2018 release date window.
This is the future of wearables, smartphones and computing, according to the Magic Leap, and it's all distilled into the funky-looking Magic Leap One.
What's it like? Well, take the virtual objects you see in a VR headset and break down the wall so that you can see what's in front of you. That's the concept behind AR or "mixed reality."
There's more to the Magic Leap One prototype than meets the eye. It consists of Lightwear glasses, a Lightpack computing platform and a remote. This is way more involved than Google Glass for 2018.
There's still a lot of mystery to Magic Leap. Let's explore your AR future.
Magic Leap One release date
Magic Leap One will launch in 2018, according to the company.
That leaves, oh, six more months to go. We don't know when Magic Leap One will launch, but the company is confident it will hit that target.
And the Magic Leap One release date is a long time coming considering the fact that Magic Leap has been in development for five years now, with nothing but conceptual ideas to show.
Clearly investors believe in the timeline behind Magic Leap. It's attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from companies like Google and Alibaba.
We'll continue to track the Magic Leap release date as we all get closer to donning the first developer AR glasses in public.
What is available now is a Technical Preview of the Creators Portal and SDK for developers. This provides tools and resources on which to create content for Magic Leap One, which is a good sign the mixed reality glasses are inching closer to a release date.
Magic Leap One price
This is a persistent question surrounding Magic Leap One, but it's not something we'll get the answer to any time soon.
What we do know is that the glasses will reach into the realm of a high-end gadget.
It's price will fall close to that of a "higher-end mobile phone to higher-end tablet" for the cheapest version.
This is according to Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz, who revealed this information in an interview with Recode in February 2018. Abovitz didn't object to the Magic Leap price being compared to the iPhone X, which costs $1,000 or £1,000 to start.
And that's just for the Magic Leap starting price. The CEO said the Creator Edition will be priced somewhere in the range of the Microsoft HoloLens, which is $3,000 or £2,719.
The justification for this high price? Magic Leap One is meant to replace many devices, not just, say, a smartphone, thus saving you thousands in the long-run. By comparison, the Google Glass price was $1,500 (£1,000, about AU$1,956), and it promised less.
The future is often exciting, and also more times than not very expensive. Also, Magic Leap doesn't have many competitors in the AR glasses space, so it's free to set its own price. The question is: will developers and consumers be buying?
How to buy Magic Leap One
When Magic Leap One: Creator Edition does go on sale, there's a good chance you'll fit into one of the categories the company is targeting.
So far, creators include developers, brands, agencies and even early adopter consumers, according to Rolling Stone, comparing the glass's potential audience to the sort of people who bought the first iPod.
In other words, this developer kit won't be limited to the developer community. It's going after consumer content creators, too.
Magic Leap One is more than just a pair of AR glasses with a camera on it (see: Snapchat Spectacles and its less-than-a-year popularity span).
“It’s what we think of as spatial computing. It has full awareness,” according to founder Rony Abovitz in the Rolling Stone piece. Think Microsoft Hololens, but with a slightly larger field of view.
How does Magic Leap One work? It uses lightfield photonics to generate digital light at different depths and blend seamlessly with natural light to produce lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world.
In other words, it's supposed to fool your brain into thinking the virtual objects set against real-world environments all look natural. That's going to make it more comfortable to wear the Lightwear goggles for a longer period of time.
Magic Leap is particularly working on expanding the field of view in its glasses and determined to make it comfortable to wear. Even if the AR glasses look a bit awkward, they should feel good wearing for a few hours.
Part of the comfort of Magic Leap One is that it's pitched higher on the back of your head. This helps with weight distribution, according to Magic Leap, which could make the glasses less front-heavy, a problem that has plagued even the best VR headsets.
In its June 2018 presentation, Magic Leap detailed some of the features of the AR glasses.
For one, it features eye tracking, so it will know where you're looking and use your gaze to control the experience. It will also use head posing, gesture controls and voice commands to control what you see and how you interact with mixed reality objects.
The glasses feature built-in audio in the headband, though you can plug headphones into the auxiliary port in the Lightpack that you slip into your pocket.
Magic Leap One will be available in two sizes, standard and large, so it should fit most users.
Finally, while Magic Leap doesn't recommend wearing eye glasses with its headset, the company is working with a third-party partner on developing prescription lenses.
Lightpack computing platform
Not all of Magic Leap One is contained in the Lightwear goggles. The computing power is relegated to a Lightpack that fits in a pocket.
It isn't meant to be worn in a belt, warns Magic Leap, because it doesn't really clip on, but rather slips onto and clasps around the fabric of your clothing. There will be an optional strap made available if you want extra security.
You power up the the headset through the power button on the Lightpack. So, it's essential that you use Magic Leap One with this puck-shaped disc, otherwise, it simply won't work.
While the company isn't talking about CPU and GPU chips, this disk-shaped "computer" is where the high-powered processing takes place.
It does have a cable, but at least you're not tied to a computer or a backpack VR kit, like we've seen from other high-end virtual reality headsets.
Interacting with the new, virtually overlain world around you is done through rather traditional means: a familiar-looking motion controller.
Control – what Magic Leap is calling its controller – is a remote that contains buttons, six-degrees of freedom motion sensing and a touchpad. There's also haptic feedback, according to the official Magic Leap website.
The AR future is now
Magic Leap content ranges from games to music experiences to Oculus Connect-like digital collaborations so far, and these are being billed as "just a jumping-off point" for creators.
The company wants you to be able to pull the web out of the screen, with 3D virtual objects and be able to open up multiple screens on demand.
All of the content, which Magic Leap is keen to have developers create, will be housed in Magic Leap World, the app store for Magic Leap One.
That long-sought-after goal of a Minority Report future may be within our grasp in 2018. Whether or not Magic Leap One can deliver that remains to be seen. But we're at least a whole lot closer to that exciting (augmented) reality.