With Microsoft currently focused on low-cost Windows Mixed Reality hardware rather than some form of the high-end HoloLens smartglasses actually aimed at consumers, the timing is definitely right for Magic Leap to finally unveil a concrete product.
The ambitious US startup has been secretly developing a set of revolutionary augmented reality technologies for at least three years now, attracting not only media interest, wild rumors and conflicting speculation, but also large investments from companies like Google, Qualcomm and Alibaba.
The Magic Leap One is confirmed at last as due for a commercial launch sometime in 2018, presumably beating Apple’s own mysterious dedicated AR device to market. Alas, it might still be a while until the masses get access to these oversized, somewhat dorky-looking goggles, as the initial “Creator Edition” is obviously “built for creators.”
That means developers, designers and “creatives”, which will probably need to pay through their nose for an early copy of the Magic Leap One, alongside the MR gadget’s software dev kit and “all of the tools, documentation, learning resources and support you’ll need to begin your journey.”
— Magic Leap (@magicleap) December 20, 2017
Clearly, the “ecosystem” is still very much a work in progress, although a RollingStone tester had great praise for the “powerful”, “startling” and extremely realistic experiences available for pre-release demos.
On the Magic Leap One’s official website, we’re unfortunately largely treated to pompous and vague taglines and “features” like “designed for discovery”, “persistent objects”, “high powered chipset”, “next generation interface” and “displays on demand.”
The main concept and functionality are however clear, as the “Lightwear” glasses are backed by a “Lightpack” engine that drives the “spatial computing platform” and a handheld controller equipped with six degrees of freedom for “effortless navigation.”
Together, the AR system guns for way more impressive and immersive experiences than VR headsets like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, combining physical and digital environments for something truly mesmerizing and lifelike. Let’s just hope Magic Leap can pull off the kind of hypnotic experiences RollingStone is raving about on a relatively wide scale, at a decent price, in the not too distant future.