After seven years of development and $1.9bn of investment, secretive tech firm Magic Leap has finally unveiled its highly-anticipated ‘mixed reality’ headset.
Magic Leap’s Lightwear device is a far cry from the bulky, face-hugging platforms that have become popular in VR, instead using wraparound steampunk-style goggles.
The system, set to be released in 2018, is tethered to a tiny spatial computing ‘engine’, which is small enough to clip to the pocket of your jeans.
It will be available in two sizes, with components that can be customized to better fit the wearer, according to Rolling Stone.
This includes the forehead pad, nose pieces, and temple pads.
For users who wear glasses, Magic Leap will also incorporate prescription details into the lenses.
The firm unveiled the first details on the Magic Leap One Creator’s Edition headset today, revealing a lightweight system that relies on three pieces: the Lightwear glasses, the Lightpack computing platform, and the Control handheld controller.
While they haven’t yet said the exact date it will be released, or how much the device will cost, they say the devices will begin shipping in 2018.
According to Magic Leap, the Lightwear goggles use Digital Lightfield technology, which generates digital light at different depths.
This blends with natural light to produce more lifelike objects over real world settings.
‘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.’
In the headset, this is combined with environment mapping, precision tracking, and soundfield audio, for a more realistic experience, the firm notes.
The Lightpack, the firm explains, is the ‘engine’ behind the spatial computing platform, with high-powered processing and graphics in a small, portable design.
And, the handheld controller will give users force control and haptic feedback, and allow for six degrees of freedom.
Magic Leap One is equipped with a ‘robust sensor suite’ that can detect surface, planes, and objects, according to the firm.
This digitally recreates your surroundings, ‘allowing lightfield objects to not only exist in the physical world, but actually interact with it.’
Once you’ve put a Lightfield object somewhere, such as a virtual TV, it will stay put so you can revisit it later.
The soundfield audio system will allow users to hear exactly where sounds are coming from, even as objects become closer or more distant.
The firm says it will launch its Creator Portal early next year, giving developers the resources that will help them get the most out of the platform.
‘Rony Abovitz and the team’s ‘Creator Edition’ will give the world its first glimpse of Magic Leap’s approach to lightfield display technology in 2018, showing what they’ve been able to deliver after years of hard work and massive investment,’ said Menlo Park based AR/VR adviser Tim Merel, Managing Director of Digi-Capital, commenting on the release.
‘Lightfield is the star of the show, where Magic Leap joins other early players like Avegant.
‘Magic Leap’s ‘Creator Portal’ will give developers the chance to experiment with the power of lightfield, leading to a flood of innovation around new use cases and UX.’
Magic Leap – which is backed by $1.9 billion in funding – has been subject to speculation for months, as they continued to remain tight-lipped about the ‘mixed reality’ device.
The firm was recently granted a patent for what appeared to be their AR glasses, sparking fresh rumors just this summer.
The patent drawings depicted somewhat bulky-looking glasses with cameras on both arms and what appears to be two pairs of lenses stacked on top of each other.
In a twist, the document is for ‘virtual reality glasses.’
This came as a surprise to many, as Magic Leap has previously released demonstration videos depicting augmented reality.
However, VR and AR are used interchangeably enough that the glasses could still be used for augmented reality experiences, but seeing as this is a design patent, technical details are lacking.
While the patent states that Magic Leap applied for it in September 2015 and that Magic Leap is the assignee, the company denied it depicts its actual glasses.
A Magic Leap spokesperson told Business Insider at the time that these are not Magic Leap’s product.
‘As you know, we file lots of patents that take a long time to get approved and so what you are looking at is not our product,’ she said.
Unnamed sources with knowledge of the company’s hardware said the design is close in appearance but that the real design is bigger and bulkier, according to Business Insider.
This has now been confirmed, with the reveal of the slim new headset.
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