In a surprise move, Magic Leap finally released images and info regarding their upcoming Magic Leap One AR headset today. Hard specs are still thin on the ground at the moment, but it appears that press embargoes on information are finally being lifted as the company looks forward to an official release of its Creator Edition headset in 2018. Magic Leap gave Rolling Stone the rock star treatment in their exclusive tour of the headquarters, which includes a hands-on with the headset.

With a few stipulations about what Rolling Stone reporter Brian Crecente could talk about, he was able to share a few details about the physical form of the AR headset from his trip to the company’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There, he was given a one hour-long demo using Magic Leap tech.

The Hardware

According to Crecente, the headset is “lightweight, modern-looking, if not exactly stylish,” adding that it’s “certainly much sleeker than anything virtual reality has to offer.”

The headband is said to hold the goggles in place using what the company calls a ‘crown temple’ design.

To put on the goggles, a person holds either side of the plastic crown in their hands and pulls apart. The crown spreads apart into a left, right and back piece. Then you slide it onto your head like a headband.

A small oval which appears to be a speaker can be seen in the image below. Rolling Stone reports the headset contains a “tiny, high-end speakers built into the temples of the device,” which provides spatial audio.

Lightwear’s field of view (FOV) is a different story. Crecente compares it to a “a VHS tape held in front of you with your arms half extended.”

image courtesy Magic Leap

Two cables come out of the back of the headband and merge into one, Rolling Stone reports. The cables measure four or five feet in length before connecting to the system’s mobile computer, aka ‘Lightpack’. The Lightpack is composed of two rounded ‘pods’ “connected smoothly on one end to form a gap between them.”

Crecente says the 6DoF motion controller is a “rounded bit of plastic that sits comfortably in your hand and features an array of buttons,” including a touchpad and haptic feedback.

The Lightwear and Lightpack are almost toy-like in their design, not because they feel cheap – they don’t – but because they’re so light and there seems to be so little to them.

The precise nature of the display tech that the headset is using is unknown, however Crecente interestingly says that objects didn’t look transparent (a major challenge with AR displays), which means either a very bright display (and/or a demo in a very dim room), or a totally unique display which can make opaque pixels. The latter seemed to be what Magic Leap was hoping to achieve in the early days of their development, but various reports suggest that tech hasn’t materialized.

You can read more about today’s Magic Leap One announcement here.

The Demo

It’s uncertain if Rolling Stone actually got a hands-on with a Creator Edition headset, or an earlier prototype, but it’s clear Magic Leap has developed a few key demos to best show off their tech.

Crecente’s hour-long demo took place first in a testing facility separate from the headquarters, which included the sort of ‘4D’ experiences that might find their ways into theme parks, and later in the main building.

This first, over-sized demo dropped me into a science fiction world, playing out an entire scene that was, in this one case, augmented with powerful, hidden fans, building-shaking speakers and an array of computer-controlled, colorful lighting. It was a powerful experience, which showed how a theme park could craft rides with no walls or waits. Most importantly, it took place among the set-dressing of the stage, the real world props that cluttered the ground and walls around me and while it didn’t look indistinguishable from reality, it was close. To see the physical world around me, and then those creations appearing not on it, as if some sort of animated sticker, but in it, was startling.

Magic Leap One Creator Edition, image courtesy Magic Leap

Heading back to the main building into a room styled to look like a normal living room, Crecente got into the nitty-gritty of the headset’s day-to-day functions:

The demo area also gave me a chance to try a half dozen or so different sorts of demonstrations. My first was a visit with Gimbal, a floating robot that hovered in the mid-field between my eyes and a distant wall. I walked up to it, around it, viewed from different angles and it remained silently hovering in my view. The world around it still existed, but I couldn’t see through it. It was as if it had substance, volume, not at all a flat image. I was surprised to find that the closer I got to the robot, to an extent, the more detailed it became. Getting up close to the floating object didn’t expose pixels, it highlighted details I wasn’t able to see from afar. If I got too close, though, it sort of disappeared or I was suddenly inside the thing. Artifacts, I was told, of a demo that hasn’t yet been polished. I also noticed that the sounds of the whirring robot shifted around as I moved around it, always placing the noise where it should be no matter where I stood.

Much like Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset, Crecente was shown how to launch a number of virtual monitors. To illustrate the spatial awareness and depth-tracking power of the headset, the company also put together a demo featuring a four-sided television which played live TV on each of its faces, where all monitors would continue playing regardless of whether Crecente could physically see them or not.

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There, Crecente got a taste of what it might be like to interact with avatars in AR, as the next demo featured a woman walking through a virtual door. Although there wasn’t any interaction to speak of, it showed the potential just the same.

Crecent was allowed to talk about a collaborative AR project with Icelandic band Sigur Rós which was recently revealed. Called Tonandi, the experience let him conjure a ring of ethereal trees, and experience wisps dancing in the air.

As I wave my hands at them, they create a sort of humming music, vanishing or shifting around me. Over time, different sorts of creations appear, and I touch them, wave at them, tap them, waiting to see what sort of music the interaction will add to the growing orchestral choir that surrounds me. Soon pods erupt from the ground on long stalks and grass springs from the carpet and coffee table. The pods open like flowering buds and I notice stingray-like creators made of colorful lights floating around me. My movements, don’t just change this pocket world unfolding around me, it allows me to co-create the music I hear, combining my actions with Sigur Ros’ sounds.

Crecente says his experience with Tonandi was “effortless.”

While there was apparently much more to experience at the headquarters, Rolling Stone was shown the door after that.

Check out Rolling Stone’s full article here, which has more details including interviews with Magic Leap leadership.

 – – — – –

The company doesn’t appear to have a booth at CES this year, so it may be some time before we get our hands on Magic Leap One. We’ll be keeping our eyes out for more news surrounding the headset though, so check back soon for more.

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  • Ian Shook

    VHS held at half an arms length. …. *sigh*

    • NooYawker

      The point of AR is to have the entire environment be part of everything. I get it’s a prototype but this kind of confirms the hype is bullshit.

      • dk

        the hype was always about the variable focus…….and to a less of a degree a pipeline driving it with a mobile hardware …..nothing else

        • Surykaty

          the hype was about everything and nothing! that was the problem.. there was no real discussion about the real aspects of the technology.. always some “magical, creative, blablabla, magical, mythological” bs marketing

          • dk

            they got funded because they had demos with variable focus displays……everything else has been just generic babble about ar/mr

          • Patty Rangel

            the power is in the content and storytelling. You can output into almost anything..hardware wow factor is short lived.

          • Patty Rangel

            That’s one expensive hype. Didn’t MagicLeap get funded at half a billion on the first round and then over a billion total in the second round? I thought MagicLeap was going to be a content provider for GoogleX hardware?

        • JeanClaude

          If they did manage to get variable focus though, and can increase FOV in a full year, and bring this to VR, I will be happy. That’s the one thing I can’t dealt with VR today, the fixed focus constantly has my eyes strain trying to focus on things.

          • dk

            the future versions of the old nvidia light field display prototype will do excellent vr and pass through ar with variable focus and small form factor….not a box on your face……..but for that we’ll need eye tracking and more than dp1.4 and next generation gpus and optimized rendering pipeline ………and low latency for ar passthrough if u r interested in ar
            but yeah variable focus in vr will be a thing too

          • dk

            the future versions of the old nvidia light field display prototype will do excellent vr and excellent pass through ar (opaque virtual objects not transparent like holograms) with variable focus and small form factor….not a box on your face……..but for that we’ll need eye tracking and more than dp1.4 and next generation gpus and optimized rendering pipeline ………..and low latency for ar pass through if u r interested in ar
            but yeah variable focus in vr will be a thing too

          • dk

            the future versions of the old nvidia light field display prototype will do excellent vr and excellent pass through ar(opaque virtual objects not transparent like holograms) with variable focus and small form factor….not a box on your face……..but for that we’ll need eye tracking and more than dp1.4 and next generation gpus and optimized rendering pipeline …….and low latency for ar pass through if u r interested in ar
            but yeah variable focus in vr will be a thing too

    • impurekind

      So, about as crap as Hololens then. :-o

      AR like this is just a pure and utter gimmick until it can increase that little window a whole order of magnitude imo.

  • Sponge Bob

    “Crecente says the 6DoF motion controller is a “rounded bit of plastic that sits comfortably in your hand and features an array of buttons,” including a touchpad and haptic feedback”

    hA-hA-hA-hAr-ha….

    And this is all they can say ?

    rounded bit of plastic indeed :-)

  • John

    “a VHS tape held in front of you with your arms half extended.”..wtf..that sound almost like Microsoft “mailslot” Hololens

  • daveinpublic

    Well it’s good that they’re releasing concrete information.

    With Oculus Go around the corner, companies are getting serious. This shows how good the Oculus Go is, a consumer product under $200 with good apps coming in a few months. Magic Leap will surely be a LOT more expensive, requires an extra computer ‘wafer’ in your pocket connected by wire, and I think the display is not edge to edge, so the images will get cutoff on the sides. But that cutoff image is much larger than Hololens. The final product in 2018 will have the same issue. Not saying it’s a bad product, it’s visionary and lays the groundwork for a huge market, but Oculus Go is passed the prototyping. It may not be AR, but they’re working within their limitations to make an actual mass market product in mere months. And you can bet Facebook is paying close attention to this. As well as Apple.

    • Adrian Meredith

      Lol what? Oculus go is basically an all in one gear vr it’s not even 6dof. It’ll be dead on arrival

      • dk

        yep should have been released a year ago ….but at least it’s cheap ….not bad for mostly kids :P

    • Downvote King

      With this being a developer edition, I could see gen 2 having 100 degree FOV. With opaque independently focus-able images that basically allows it to double as a VR headset. Depending how the resolution adds up with their eye-tracking and potentially foveated rendering, it could actually be a pretty good one too.

  • Lucio Lima

    Disappointing!

  • Ted Joseph

    The ZED Mini with its 110 FOV may be the way to go, but still need to demo both units…

  • justin

    I purchased the vive it was ok but then become to uncomfortable and a pain in the arse to put on and take off and the visuals are shit with or without super sampling so I packed it back in the box and will buy a bigger monitor instead

    • Raphael

      Idiot.

      • Bryan Ischo

        justin! Be quiet! You woke the baby again!

        • Raphael

          I swear i will punch the muppet’s head. Bought vr and didn’t have a clue what it was and then goes back to tiny 2d rectangle pancake display thinking he’s realiy clever.

          • Bryan Ischo

            Dude, not everyone likes everything you like. You don’t have to be offended by it!

          • Raphael

            Agree 100 percent. What i disagree with is buying VR costing 700 to 800 without knowing what it is or what it does then making a big noise about how it didnt meet your exceedingly high standards. The guy is an idiot.

    • JeanClaude

      I have to agree with you. This is still holding back VR. Its like the 80/20 rule. VR is 80% there, but that last 20% to perfect it to mass adoption will take the most time to build.

    • MadridiCooL

      I’ve got a 4K 65″ Samsung HDR TV but flying the amazing DCS A10C Warthog on that will never beat the realism of VR ,firing those mavericks missiles and watch them hit the target is pure joy in VR, hard to beat that even on 3 TVs.

    • trekkie

      Justin: Ah good idea ! How do you plan to attach that bigger monitor to your head ?

  • Surykaty

    Ronny Abovitz is a drug addicted shroom eating retard. Never invites a normal tech journalist because he’s afraid because his tech is CRAP as hell… he can keep his bulky glasses. Meh.. meh.. disingenious piece of shit!

  • fuyou2

    FUYOU2 MAGIC LEAP… LMAO. WHAT A CROCK OF SHIT!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jay degaris

    FOV , VHS tape held at arms length, WTF, that is like 20 degrees! What a bunch of liars. Who gives a shit about the tracking when it’s the optics and the display they were hyping up. Here is my design, I think it’s better, it has 240 degree FOV with eye tracking and real fur!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7456a6303020400d18832d394b9648e707cd02a4ec23710d87efa5b0d0bc37f.jpg

    • Jeff

      it says “half extended”- which is posibly the vaguest way to possibly describe FOV, especially given variable arm lengths, and the fact that no young person has a VHS tape on hand. Anyway, should be way better then at arms length, but no idea in actual degrees. could look up average arm length and do the math, but…

  • NoName

    Everybody is talking about the ugly design and trash FOV, but nobody is talking about the fact that they are using a Vive’s wand clone instead of fingers tracking like they promised!

    • Patty Rangel

      Wonder how the LeapMotion integration testing went.

      • Sponge Bob

        Dude, get a clue
        Leap Motion uses projected IR light and IR cameras to see your hands
        Step outside in direct sunlight and see how well it works (it does not)
        Not a good idea for AR to restrict it to indoor spaces right from the get go

        • Patty Rangel

          Thanks “dude” – although the majority of the population is sedentary and more likely to use the tech indoors…in classrooms, offices, conference rooms, hospitals…so the value proposition and target demographics are best for indoor users. Why use AR outdoors when the world is so much better experienced first hand? I wouldn’t be looking forward to drivers being distracted by AR, or kids wearing goggles outdoors for entertainment. Higher risk of accidents due to distractions. Personally, holding anything in my hands while using AR/VR is annoying. Gestures and free motion are much better.

          • Sponge Bob

            VR is for indoor use mostly, agreed

            Not so with AR – the type of much improved Google Glass on the go – showing you augmented world, once you get used to it won’t distract you anymore, but provide guidance and directions when you need them without having to reach for your smartphone in your pokect all the time – really distractive and annoying practice – not safe too if you walk or run or drive
            AR is for outdoors, mark my words

          • Patty Rangel

            I’ve been working in large scale AR for over 10years in Defense, Aerospace and Medicine. The difference now is portability for outdoor use, but then again, important lessons learned from Google Glass is that people don’t like glassholes. MagicLeap goggles are nowhere as discreet. There would have to be a really good reason to use the goggles outside beyond a Pokemon Go on Glass experience. Parents wouldn’t spend that much anyway, they would rather give their kids a phone.

    • Sponge Bob

      dude, get a clue

      vive tracking, as good as it is, requires 2 external basestations (with lasers and rotating mirrors inside)
      Not exactly something you can put inside VR or AR glasses

      Oculus Touch controller would work with 2 cameras in their headset but I don’t see anything looking like it in their pics

      What I see is useless GearVR/Daydream/OculusGO controller
      a fancy pointer – complete sh1t

      BTW finger tracking like Leap Motion is tiring and annoying as hell for many common tasks

      6DoF high precision controller is a MUST

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    FINALLY! A product reveal! about damn time.
    I’ve read the Rolling Stone article, which is very good, and my impressions are that this seems impressive, but (unsurprisingly) didn’t live up to the hype. Looking forward to seeing some specs, price, release date, and YouTube reviews.
    I like the size of it, but not the look. The Hololens looks way better, they should of named this Bug-Eyez.

    I’m glad the FOV is larger then the Hololens…but it sounds like it’s worse then the Meta 2. FOV sounds like it could be its downfall (maybe). They say they have much better FOV on units in “the lab”, but it could be an additional 2-3 years before that goes into production.
    But overall, I’m pretty impressed.

  • Tom_Craver

    The “non-transparent” trick seems pretty obvious – they’re likely using something like an LCD layer that masks out the background where a virtual object blocks the view of the background. The trick being to generate those masks (one per eye) reliably and quickly.

  • Tomaz Diniz

    Now i got hyped like when i heard about VR and the image was Sony hmd… Im sohyped! Its a fascinating way, also the opaque pixels and non transparency on images and real world is a huge challenge that can break immersion easily

  • Average male half arms length away is what? 18 inches? So the real world begins 18 inches away from your eyes? That would be worse than the 5 inch scuba mask effect of current VR headsets. It would be like looking through a cereal box.

    AR pixels that can go fully opaque would be a step forwards though.

    I am quite underwhelmed of recent news to be honest. I was hoping for some ultra groundbreaking tech. Will just have to wait for the independent reviews.

    • Digbick

      Nah dude this is like looking through a granola bar box. They said VHS but it’s actually a facing down VSH.

  • impurekind

    That field of view is terrible–just like Hololens. :-o

    AR like this is just a pure and utter gimmick until it can increase that little floating window a whole order of magnitude imo.

    At least with VR the hype is actually real, and it’s only gotten better since release and is only going to get better and better very quickly–8K headsets with 200 degree field of view, as well as totally self-contained wireless models, are already in the works and will be available in less than a few years (and probably still sooner than Magic Leap’s first actual AR headset)–and current-gen VR is already pretty affordable as a consumer-level product and will only get cheaper and cheaper very quickly.

    So, yeah, AR is a lot of bullshot at the moment, imo, and VR is very much where it’s at for now and in the foreseeable future–which has been my stance since day one and still is now.

    One day, however, both technologies will ultimately combine into one to achieve the best of both worlds, and then it truly will be awesome times indeed!

    • kalqlate

      Say what you will, but you can always tell when someone hasn’t actually experienced Hololens. IF you had experienced it, you would revel in the fact that your brain greatly overrides the limited field of view with your imagination, and the experience truly feels amazingly immersive. Sure, as great an FOV you can get would be great, but to poo poo the Halolens experience is a dead-give-away that a person hasn’t experienced it. The FAR majority of people haven’t actually experienced Halolens, and the complainers in that group are just going by the numbers.

      • So FOV with AR is not comparable to FOV with VR? I must try a hololens to experience this.

        • kalqlate

          I’d say “not”, but it seems Ian Shook in a related comment strongly disagrees. My experience with Hololens and the lasting impressions are quite favorable and much different than his. Also, I’ve spoken with two other development teams working with Hololens, and they have a similarly great impression of the tech as I have, indicating that the small FOV vanishes and is not a limit to the sense of immersion that they feel.

          • Different opinions are fine and help us that have not tried it get a balanced view. I remember the feeling when I first put on my DK2 and was blown away by it. With advances in VR I now expect much more. I guess AR will be just like that when I get to try it or maybe the wow factor will be less due to experience with VR.

        • impurekind

          Hololens basically has a field of view that is akin to looking at a flat 20 inch monitor floating a couple feet in front of you except showing some fake “hologram”, but it does move around the world and stuff as you move your head at least. The likes of Oculus Rift has a field of view that covers far more of your view and is akin to wearing a pare of ski googles, where you still see most of the stuff you would normally around you but are aware that a portion of your peripheral vision is cut off. And a VR headset like the Rift immerses you entirely in the world with full 3D graphics generated everywhere around you, to one to one scale, with 3D stereoscopic sound, and two 6DoF controllers and full motion tracking of translation and rotation. Basically, right now VR is an order of magnitude more immersive than anything AR googles and the likes of Magic Leap are doing.

      • Ian Shook

        I’ve used the hololens and have logged maybe 3 or 4 hours in it. If you can get past the bad UI, the slow OS, and the bulky headset, the FOV is still annoying as hell. We (our company) bought it to develop on it and we sold it on Ebay.

      • impurekind

        I’ve tried VR and I know how important the field of view is. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid when AR basically has like 40 degree field of view or thereabouts right now. It’s an image floating in a window that gets cut off as soon as you move a little bit–that’s not that AR dream for me personally.

        • kalqlate

          Oh, my! To associate smartphone screen AR to headset AR tells the tale. :D

          • Reels Rihard

            He associated the apps of each, not the tech of phones and ar devices like hololens. He goes into why AR isn’t ready for him tech wise at this point in time in the first part of his post.

          • impurekind

            Exactly.

          • Reels Rihard

            I’m of the same camp as you on AR but worse. It’ll get to where it needs to be eventually though.

          • impurekind

            Oh, my! That you totally put two and two together and got twenty six. I’m not talking about how the two different devices work in relation to AR but just the kind of crap that’s been shown/demoed on AR headsets to date. Any demo of AR has been either utterly gimmicky crap or just lifestyle and productivity type stuff–just like the crap we now use our phones for on a daily basis–none of which excites me at all. I don’t get a boner by checking some stats floating over my real-world living room or looking up the bus times, as useful as that is in its own way, but I do get excited about genuinely amazing entertainment and gaming experiences–which so far have been completely and utterly lacking in any AR stuff I’ve seen to date.

          • kalqlate

            Hahaha… you folks kill me… a bunch of do-nothing complainers. Hey, go out and create the technology you want instead of bellyaching and poo pooing those who are actually doing something. Oops! Nevermind… you’ve shown the extent of your ability is to TRY to show you’re smart by complaining on social media. Your contribution… complaining about state of the art. That’s it. NOTHING else. Hahahaha. Yeah, you’re a real tech hero. OK. Go for it, if that’s what you’re into.

          • impurekind

            “go out and create the technology you want”

            Stop throwing around idiotic comments like the one above. Only a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the world will ever be in such a fortunate position to do any such thing, especially in this kind of high-tech space.

            You’re not making your argument and stronger here.

        • Sponge Bob

          camera pass through AR headsets already exist and claim
          120 degrees FoV (check Vrvana Totem specs)
          bulky and frigging expensive for now but still
          Apple just bought Vrvana for a reason – might be another 3 years but not 10 years to get to 120 degrees FoV in high-quality consumer grade 500-1000$ AR headsets

    • I have to agree with you. Apple also said that AR has too many technical hurdles still so they are not going to produce a lack luster consumer device (Microsoft and Google both tried) I was hoping this product would be THE game changer but sadly it is just more of the same (with the info we have). Meanwhile VR is belting along.

    • Sponge Bob

      why would you need 200 degrees FoV ?
      Isn’t 180 all you need ?

      • impurekind

        180 would be great, but the human field of view is actually around 200 degrees, so you’d ideally want the same.

  • Can’t wait for a review of yours

  • Lucidfeuer

    Everything is/seems to be as expected. $2B to provide an opaque pixel solution…why the fuck do these corporations tech-wash money instead of actually making tech investments is beyond me.

    I’m still curious about their “lightfield” rendering approach, and hope I’ll be able to test it. The HoloLenses problem despite having narrow FOV was also the transparency factors, which is fun the first few minutes because you’re still seing holograms overlaid on the real world for the first time, but then the low resolution and transparency slowly kills the effect of presence and materiality. If Leap managed to have opaque pixels, this is another story, but still not a product.

  • sfmike

    The FOV is VERY disappointing. Nows it’s a just wait and see.

    • trekkie

      You have seen it ? Do you know what FOV stands for ?

  • gothicvillas

    Ok all clear. AR is not here yet. Whats the point working on such small FOV? They need to abandon all and invest all their efforts on at least 110 FOV. Anything below is pointless. Its like revealing VR headset with 240p image.

  • Wow, an ACTUAL bit of REAL information. I about fell over from the shock! Years of BS and we finally see something REAL from the most over-hyped company since Segway.

    Overall, seems like a basic Hololens competitor.. *hopefully* without a Hololens price tag. Microsoft’s AR toy was cool too, but it’s price was absurd. Did anyone buy one for home use?? Hololens had the same sad viewing angles, but maybe that’s just the price you pay for AR?

    Does anybody know why AR seems locked at such terribly small viewing angles when VR can easily eclipse the whole eye-range? (see StarVR) It must be a technical thing. Somebody should do an article about it.

  • Jon

    After some incredible hype and a ‘little bit’ of seed money. I actually think It sounds like an awesome bit of kit and I can’t wait to try it out.

    Great:
    • Controllable transparent/opaque pixels (if true, sounds like a fantastic accomplishment).
    • Eye tracking (Is this allowing for depth of field accompanied with lightfield technology)
    • Slim form factor, with a lot of tech squeezed in.

    Good:
    • Tetherfree (*well, close enough for 1st gen)
    • If the controllers is has got 6 dof, that’s also impressive given the lack of tracking.

    Bad:
    • Odd choice of styling
    • FOV

  • Viktor Navarro

    Now that’s just sad. i love the 90s feel of the older design choices they made. i wanted to feel like I’m in a Sci-Fi moovie from Moonlignt Entertainment directed by Albert Pyun!
    Wait, no, I didn’t. the changes they are trying to make actually make logical sense.
    https://droidinformer.org/Stories/magic-leap-mixed-reality-headset-is-on-the-way.html
    I just hope that while chasing the design they don’t forget the function.