BBC Studios and AR/VR studio PRELOADED today launched BBC Earth – Micro Kingdoms: Senses, the interactive documentary for Magic Leap 1. Narrated by Stephen Fry, the AR experience brings user into the tiny world of insects and arachnids.
Created in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, the same minds behind Planet Earth and Blue Planet, Micro Kingdoms lets users get up close and personal with a two species of creepy crawlers—a Leaf Cutter Ant colony from the tropical rainforests of Central America and the Wandering Spider from the Atlantic Forest of Eastern Brazil.
Although originally slated to launch in Fall 2019, the experience is arriving today on Magic Leap 1 headsets.
According to a behind-the-scenes video (linked below), the virtual invertebrate stars of the app were created using photo and video references sourced from BBC’s Natural History Unit. Environmental props, such as plants and logs, were created using photogrammetry, a technique for reconstructing 3D geometry with high-resolution textures from real photographs and other data.
And it seems to pack in a fair amount of interactivity as well, as its said to include a dynamic soundtrack to underpin key events. Peering through a magnifying glass, you can watch the ants go to work demolishing a leaf.
“The way the ants move around, the way they communicate, is completely authentic to how they would behave in the wild. Likewise with the spider—the way it stalks its prey, the way it responds to your presence,” said Phil Stuart, Creative Director at Preloaded.
The release of Micro Kingdoms follows a string of third-party apps created for Magic Leap 1 via the company’s Independent Creator Program, including BBC Civilizations from indie studio Nexus Studios.
Magic Leap appears to still be on that warpath for high-quality, curated content. To that effect, the company is giving away more Magic Leap 1 hardware and engaging more independent developers soon through its upcoming LEAP Con in May, a more intimate affair at its Florida HQ than its inaugural dev conference in 2018.
And although slick (and probably pretty expensive) offerings like Micro Kingdoms feel like the company is filling out Magic Leap World with consumer-focused experiences for an impending, bona-fide consumer headset release, the company has said its Magic Leap 2 headset will still be focused on enterprise and prosumers segments when it launches in 2021. So it seems only relatively few people will ever enjoy the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry as he waxes poetic about bugs, at least until the original Magic Leap 1’s $2,300 price tag is reduced.