Magic Leap just updated their website this morning to reveal their highly anticipated augmented reality smart glasses for the first time. These are known as the Magic Leap One Creator Edition. The smart glasses feature an array of sensors on the front. They are connected via a wire to a battery and computing pack designed to be worn on the belt. This is a big deal, as we’ve been waiting for more than three years for these glasses. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized goggles and a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack. It also has a handheld controller. It’s supposed to accept “multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking,” and maps persistent objects onto the environment — “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 site promises.
Founded in 2011, Magic Leap has been a bit of a mystery. There seems to be a lot of investment from some really big companies, but until now we haven’t seen anything from them. In fact, this is their first product. To put this into perspective, the company has raised $1.9 billion to date. The secretive augmented reality startup has released a few high-level concept videos showing what it hopes to achieve by injecting virtual creations into the real world. But it hasn’t shown us any of those products – until now. Do you find this anti-climactic? I’m not suggesting that it is, but after all this time, it feels like we should be getting something bigger from them.
According to Rolling Stone, Magic Leap will offer two sizes of the goggles, with the option of a custom forehead, nose, and temple pads. It’s also supposedly working on getting prescription lenses built into models. There’s supposed to be another lower-powered computer in the goggles, which handles world detection and includes some kind of machine learning capabilities. It includes four built-in microphones and at least six external cameras and provides built-in speakers, similar to Microsoft HoloLens. We still don’t know what the price will be, or even when this is expected to ship. The company insists that it will ship in 2018, but they have made this kind of promise before. They were supposed to ship an SDK back in 2015, but that didn’t happen. We hope, however, that this is the start of real offerings from Magic Leap.
My previous assessment of anti-climactic wasn’t to say that it’s not a good product. Because augmented reality is changing the way that we view the world. While these aren’t quite there, the idea is that you will be able to wear glasses that look like your normal eyewear and have informative graphics appear in your view. It’s not limited to graphics though – audio will be available as well. Think about what kind of information this could provide us with? You’re walking down the street and really need a coffee shop. Punch that into your phone (or say it out loud), and before your eyes, you’re going to see the top coffee shops on the street. Along with all kinds of other detail – like reviews, maybe even menus and prices. This is an incredible advancement, which means the next set of glasses like these will be bigger and better.