At a sponsored GDC 2018 session, the still mysterious augmented reality company Magic Leap has revealed how their prototype hardware has evolved from 2014 to present day.

Slowly but surely, the famously secretive augmented reality company, is opening the shutters and letting the public see what they’ve been up to since the company was formed back in 2010.

At a GDC 2018 session called “The World is Your Playground: Deep Dive on Developing for Spatial Computing”, the company introduced the audience to the evolution of their prototype hardware illustrating just how far they’ve come.

Magic Leap Launches Developer SDK, Confirms Eye-tracking, Room-scanning, and More

One image which has been seen publicly acutely demonstrates the scale of miniaturisation that has taken place since the early days. Director of Interaction Lab at Magic Leap Brian Schwab introduced The Big Bench (below), a very early prototype Magic Leap device: “It was all basically like a Chevy 350 so you could swap parts and iterate.”

Magic Leap “The Bench” Prototype from 2014 – Photo: Road to VR

Schwab continues, introducing a technically ‘wearable’, albeit very uncomfortable looking prototype from 2015 (below), “This thing is called Cheese Head. The reason it’s so large is because the optics were huge and you need to keep them rigid.”

The ‘Cheese Head’ 2014 Magic Leap prototype Photo: Road to VR

“This is what we called the WD3, we also had the V1, and the WD1, and WD2, then we had this thing. This was one of the first ones that what actually wearable.” The WD3 from 2015 is pictured below.

Photo: Road to VR

And finally, there’s quite a jump here as we see a shot of the WD3 prototype juxtaposed with the Magic Leap One prototype headset, as revealed back in December last year.

Photo: Road to VR

Magic Leap Specs and ‘Lumin’ SDK details that are known thus far:

  • Head tracking
  • Eye tracking
  • Gesture and hand tracking
  • Room scanning and meshing
  • Spatialized audio
  • Microphone input
  • 6DOF hand controller (Totem) tracking
  • Vulkan and OpenGL support
  • Use of Unreal Engine 4’s desktop and mobile forward rendering paths
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  • FishySmell

    Pretty sure these aren’t accurate. Their original prototype was a refrigerator-sized device that uses a mini-projector to project directly onto retina. They weren’t able to miniaturize it and shelved the project (this was the project what sold the initial investors). Then they started working on a Hololens’ clone. It was a bit after Hololens already came out so they were quite behind. At that time I remember seeing photos of it and it was still a massive device that has to be strapped to your back like a backpack. The fact that we are not seeing any of that here is telling me that they are not being honest or are hiding something. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised remembering those CGI videos they released trying to pass on as “real”.

    • user

      the leaked backpack picture used a 2017-like prototype which you can clearly see if you compare the pictures. the backpack was there because they didnt have a small external computer back then but the headset was the same size it is now.

    • dk

      it never was “projecting directly in the retina” ….unless u count that the light is reflected from the combiner in your eye
      but yeah they use the same type of projector as the hololens and their initial patents were about a signal from the belt pack carried to the headset via fibre and so no projectors in the headset making it lighter ….that part didn’t work out
      and they have a sandwich of about 6 layers of wave guides approximating the light field giving u variable focus ….not sure how much that part has changed and not sure how well it works

  • LowRezSkyline

    I wonder which prototype is the one that signifies them tossing in the towel on their original light field optics approach that everyone said was impossible. You know, when they became another Hololens.

    • Stephanie

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    • Downvote King

      Do you have some inside information that suggests it is no longer a light-field display? Even the Rolling Stone hands-on from a couple months ago mentioned light-field tech.

  • bud

    Meanwhile… back at the ranch….

    The Earth break away civilization which cost the US tax payer 27trillion and has only drip drip drip been admitted to post Dec16, is playing with all the cool alien back engineered tech stuff hundreds and thousands of years in advanced of any thing you can even imagine….”Ben Rich”

    Nothing to see here move along, walk, don’t walk, walk, don’t walk.