Magic Leap Unveils Its Augmented Reality Headset, Said to Launch in 2018

BY Evan Selleck

Published 20 Dec 2017

Augmented Reality is a major new push for companies –even ones that were originally banking on Virtual Reality being the next Big Thing– and one entry is going to be from Magic Leap.

The company has been working on some kind of big new technology or hardware for years, and now, Rolling Stone has been invited to take a look at what they have been working on. It’s called the Magic Leap One, which the company describes as a “creator edition” of the planned AR system it is building. There is a lot going on with the design, which includes the goggles themselves, a standalone puck-shaped computer Magic Laps calls a “Lightpack,” and a handheld controller.

But Magic Leap has ideas for a variety of input methods beyond that controller, saying the AR system will recognize “multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking.” The system will also map persistent objects around you, so if you “place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it.”

The Lightpack standalone computer can be clipped to a belt or shoulder pad, and the company says that it is as powerful as a MacBook Pro or an Alienware gaming PC. It even has its own dedicated graphics card in the small form factor. Another, smaller, less-powerful computer is in the goggles, too, which is meant to address a few other key points, including world detection. The headset has four built-in microphones, too.

As it stands right now, Magic Leap says the software development kit (SDK) will launch in the early part of 2018, and after that the hardware will launch at some point.

Rolling Stone has a nice write-up of what they experienced with their brief hands-on time with the Magic Leap One AR headset, which included virtual characters that were able to react to eye contact, and much more. The report indicates that there weren’t any slow downs or stutters while using the headset, either, which sounds like a good starting off point for a pre-release product.

When the hardware does arrive, Magic Leap is aiming to have two different sizes of the goggles available, and it will even include options for custom-sized temple, nose, and forehead pads. In addition to that, Magic Leap says it is working on making sure that prescription lenses can be built into the headset, too.

Right now, Magic Leap is showing off a pre-production vision of what they want their augmented reality goggles to be. The hands-on demo does bear good news for anyone who is interested in this idea, and who doesn’t want to jump on board with Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. With a planned launch in 2018, it would mark a pretty exciting launch for AR headsets.

Still, there’s one more company that is allegedly jumping into the market soon. Apple has been long rumored to be working on its own pair of smart, AR glasses. The latest rumors suggest the company could be ready to launch something by 2019, but that is far from confirmed. It will be interesting to see how far AR headsets have come along by the time Apple gets around to announcing their own — if they announce anything at all.

Are you looking forward to seeing how far augmented reality comes along in the next year or two? What do you think of the Magic Leap One?

[via Rolling Stone; Magic Leap]