Magic Leap today revealed a collaborative AR project with Icelandic band Sigur Rós, a musical experience which fills the player’s surroundings with ethereal visuals and an interactive soundscape.

Secretive startup Magic Leap still hasn’t officially revealed the AR headset that they’re working on, focusing instead on the experiences they say it will enable. Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan recently visited the company’s Florida offices to see a new Magic Leap AR experience built in collaboration with the band Sigur Rós.

Hogan’s article focuses mainly on the musical experience which is called Tónandi; Sigur Rós has reportedly been working at some level on the collaboration for four years or so. The eight to ten minute experience is described as taking over a living-room sized space with a mystical realm that’s interactive by movement and touch.

Two new photos revealed in the article show what the experience is purported to look like through the headset, though the “Shot in Engine” disclaimer suggests this isn’t a true view through the headset’s lenses (indeed, it appears that background is a CGI template of the real-world demo room), though Magic Leap has revealed footage previously that they claim is shot through the lens.

Image courtesy Pitchfork, Magic Leap

Not quite a song, but not just an instrument either, Hogan summarizes the feel of the experience as such:

The Tónandi experience is more like hiking or scuba-diving in your house while also being surrounded by supernatural beings. It’s appealingly disorienting. By the end, orchestration is sizzling—I can almost feel it—through my fingertips. When it’s over, I ask if I can go again.

Though Hogan specifically notes he can’t talk much about the Magic Leap headset itself, the article does reveal a few telling details. He says he used the “current incarnation of Magic Leap,” and that the headset has hand-tracking for interacting with the AR world, and, ostensibly, positional tracking for moving about the room-scale experience.

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Hogan appears to have also left us a significant hint, revealed by reading between the lines, about Magic Leap’s capabilities. He talks about today’s limitations of AR headsets, and doesn’t say anything to suggest that the Magic Leap headset improves upon them, including the need to have the device attached to a battery pack.

There are a few widely documented problems with augmented reality devices in general. They look silly. They have a narrow field of vision, so while what you see through the goggles looks amazing, you can still see unmixed reality in your peripheral vision. And they require so much energy that, for the foreseeable future, they’ll need to be connected to a battery pack.

He further went on to say that Tónandi feels like it’s nearly ready for public consumption, though Magic Leap still hasn’t officially announced the device or indicated when it might ship.

Earlier this year, Magic Leap made a major update to its website, apparently in preparation for a forthcoming launch. In September, Bloomberg reported that an initial batch of Magic Leap’s first device could be sent out “to a small group of users within six months,” priced between $1,500 and $2,000. In October the company raised an additional $502 million in venture capital, further increasing its massive lead as AR’s top funded startup, and one of the top funded tech startups in the world.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • MagicSheat

    Still using a CGI demo. lol. Pass.

    • Lucidfeuer

      It would be awesome if this was CGI, as in literally volumetric CGI streaming. But it’s not, it’s real-time, and it’s real.

      • NooYawker

        “disclaimer suggests this isn’t a true view through the headset’s lenses
        (indeed, it appears that background is a CGI template of the real-world
        demo room)”
        Is it real? Maybe, maybe not, who knows.

  • nekrololi

    Hey I just happened to listen to some Sigur Ros again the other day after years without listening to them and now I see this …

    This looks like it could be promising only if there is enough variation with the visuals otherwise it would get really repetitive and boring very quickly.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Is this the “fun and cool stuff we’ll share with you next week” that Roni was referring to?!?
    Weak sauce.
    CES is a few weeks away…show us the damn unicorn already.

    • dk

      Rony tweeted ….A few more things this week. Stay tuned.
      ….could be more of the same

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  • Tried Microsoft’s Hololens last week. Was an extremely limited experience. VR is awesome by comparison. Ridiculously narrow FOV, low resolution, and a weighty headset kills it. If Magic Leap has the same issues, it’s dead in the water. Given how secretive they are, and how vague every single announcement they make is, it looks like they have failed to solve any of the current problems. What’s worse is that they sound more and more pompous and arrogant as time goes by. Release something real or dial back the hype. It’s becoming extremely irritating.

    • NooYawker

      AR is much more difficult to create. The real world environment has to blend in with the AR created objects. that’s why hololens is just for developers. It’s still years before a commercial AR glasses will be ready. Magic leap is just another company working on AR except they have extremely annoying marketing that seems to work great at snagging investors.

      • GigaSora

        Simple VR is easier to create, but yeah. They’ll both get real tough moving forward.

    • When a journalist tried it months ago, it said that it is worse than HoloLens

      • Alex

        Could you share a link to this?

  • NooYawker

    They revealed more cgi created videos.

  • Lucidfeuer

    So finally a real image (the specific opacity and the diffraction glow gives it out) of Leap. It’s hard to estimate the FOV but guessing the focale is fine-tune for eyes, I’d say about ~70-80°.

    Yet this is still a non-product, just an upgraded HoloLens prototype with no reason to be until 10-15 years in the future, IF VR has picked up. It’ll be fun to test.

  • I’m tired of these videos, I want a prototype

  • PK

    this is by mike tucker, whose one of my favourite vr artists. i can’t wait to see this through a magic leap, if i’ll be able to afford one.

  • Mateusz

    So in essence it’s a visualizer app. These are great but nothing new. VR had those for some time now and I’m not sure how AR setting would make them any better. It’s an interesting novelty to have visualizing happen in your own room but surely being able to create almost infinitely bigger landscapes from surface of Mars to the depths of oceans provides more opportunities for awe inspiring esthetics :)