Magic Leap is Selling Its First AR Headset for Just $550

It looks like Magic Leap is holding a barn burner of a sale on its first AR headset, Magic Leap 1, as the one-time $2,300 device can now be had for $550.

As first reported by GMW3, Magic Leap appears to be flushing excess stock of the 2018-era AR headset via the Amazon-owned online retailer Woot. 

The listing (find it here) is for a brand new Magic Leap 1, including the headset’s hip-worn compute unit and single controller. The sale is happening from now until June 1st, and features a three-unit limit per customer. Amazon US Prime members qualify for free shipping, which ought to arrive to those of you in the lower 48 in early June.

If you’re tempted, there’s a few things you should know before hitting the ‘buy now’ button. Users should be warned that since Magic Leap pivoted to service only enterprise users, that its Magic Leap World online app store isn’t likely to see any new apps outside of the handful that were released between 2018-2020.

Image courtesy Magic Leapgic leap

Still, there are a mix of apps such as Spotify or room-scale shooter Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders which might be better suited as tech demos, giving prospective augmented reality devs a sense of what you might create for a bona fide AR headset, ostensibly in preparation for what devices may come—we’re looking at Apple, Google, and Meta in the near future for mixed reality headsets capable of both VR and passthrough AR.

Launched in 2018, Magic Leap straddled an uneasy rift between enterprise and prosumers with ML 1 (known then as ‘ML One’). Reception by consumers for its $2,300 AR headset was lukewarm, and messaging didn’t seem focused enough to give either developers or consumers hope that a more accessible bit of ML hardware was yet to come. Then in mid 2020, company founder and CEO Rony Abovitz stepped down, giving way to former Microsoft exec Peggy Johnson to take the reigns, who has thus far positioned the company to solely target enterprise with its latest Magic Leap 2 headset.

Here’s the full spec sheet below:

CPU & GPU

NVIDIA® Parker SOC
CPU: 2 Denver 2.0 64-bit cores + 4 ARM Cortex A57 64-bit cores (2 A57’s and 1 Denver accessible to applications)
GPU: NVIDIA Pascal™, 256 CUDA cores
Graphic APIs: OpenGL 4.5, Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.1+AEP

RAM: 8 GB

Storage Capacity: 128 GB (actual available storage capacity 95 GB)

Power
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Up to 3.5 hours continuous use. Battery life can vary based on use cases. Power level will be sustained when connected to an AC outlet. 45-watt USB-C Power Delivery (PD) charger

Audio Input
Voice (speech to text) + real world audio (ambient)

Audio Output
Onboard speakers and 3.5mm jack with audio spatialization processing

Connectivity
Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11ac/b/g/n, USB-C

Haptics: LRA Haptic Device

Tracking: 6DoF (position and orientation)

Touchpad: Touch sensitive

LEDs: 12-LED (RGB) ring with diffuser

Power: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Up to 7.5 hours continuous use. 15-watt USB-C charger

Other Inputs
8-bit resolution Trigger Button
Digital Bumper Button
Digital Home Button

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Grab an AR Bargain Magic Leap 1 for Only $549

Back before it ever had a product, the very well backed Magic Leap was the talk of the XR town thanks to its secrecy, occasional celeb tech demos and plenty of outlandish spin. All of that eventually produced the Magic Leap One which didn’t exactly set the world on fire, especially as the device cost in excess of $2000 USD when it launched in 2018. If you wanted one but couldn’t afford it then now’s the chance, Magic Leap seems to be selling them off cheap.

NSC Creative

There’s a listing on Amazon-owned marketplace Woot for the first generation Magic Leap 1 – which was a slight improvement over the original Magic Leap One Creators Edition. It seems as though Magic Leap is selling off its old stock as the augmented reality (AR) headset still comes with a 1-year warranty and you can buy up to three at once!

But it’s the price that’s most surprising, you can pick up a brand new Magic Leap 1 for only $549 USD, that’s a massive 76% saving off the listed $2,295.00. That’s the biggest saving gmw3 has seen on hardware, even if it has been superseded by the newer Magic Leap 2.

Magic Leap 1 might have been a more enterprise-oriented headset – it wasn’t until a little later that Magic Leap announced it would fully focus on enterprise – but at the time it did court developers from across the XR industry. Studios like Resolution Games created exclusive titles like Glimt: The Vanishing at the Grand Starlight Hotel although, for the most part, those looking to tinker in AR will get the most use out of this deal.

Magic Leap

The Magic Leap 1 is comprised of the headset and its array of sensors, an external puck that houses the battery and CPU, plus an additional remote control. The holographic display has a field of view (FoV) of 50-degrees and there’s full 6DoF tracking support. Other features include a 120Hz refresh rate, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, and 3.5 hours of battery life.

The $549 Magic Leap 1 deal will end in 8 days or sooner if the stock does run out before then. For continued updates on the latest XR deals, keep reading gmw3.

Watch: New Look At Magic Leap 2 Headset & Controllers

A video shared by Magic Leap earlier this month gives us our most comprehensive look at the design of the company’s upcoming Magic Leap 2 AR headset yet.

It shows us almost every angle imaginable of the headset and its controllers.

As reported in late January, the Magic Leap 2 specs suggest it will be a best-in-class AR headset, aimed at the enterprise market. Compared to the Magic Leap 1, it’s lighter in weight, twice as powerful and features an eye box that is twice as large. This is just the tip of the iceberg — you can read more spec specifics here.

We had previously seen photos of Magic Leap 2, but this new video gives a full 360 degree overview. Plus, it gives a clearer look at the headset’s accompanying controllers. As reported earlier this month, the controllers feature cameras on the sides, used for onboard inside-out tracking.

We had seen some unofficial pictures of the controllers at the time, but this new video gives us our first official look. The two cameras are present on the sides, but you can also see what looks to be a trackpad on the top of the controller.

This style of inside-out tracking, using cameras on the controllers themselves, is being employed by other companies as well — leaked images from last September suggest that Meta will use a similar onboard camera design with its controllers for Project Cambria.

Magic Leap 2 will target enterprise markets on release, but specific pricing info and release window details have yet to be revealed.

Magic Leap 2 Controllers Have Onboard Inside-Out Tracking

An image shared on Twitter of the upcoming Magic Leap 2 shows cameras on the controllers, used for inside-out tracking.

In January we reported on Magic Leap 2’s specs – or at least some of them – being shared at SPIE Photonics West 2022. But as it turns out, we missed that the company also revealed that the controller itself uses inside-out tracking. It wasn’t clear at the time what exactly that meant, but the image shared this week by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis shows two front-facing cameras.

Controllers in almost all AR and VR systems available today are either tracked by the headset or rely on external base stations. Meta’s Quest 2 for example tracks a pattern of infrared LEDs underneath the plastic ring of its controllers, while Valve’s Index controllers determine their position relative to SteamVR “Lighthouse” base stations placed in the corner of your room.

Relying on the headset for tracking has a flaw: if the controller moves out of view of the sensors or if any part of your body gets in the way, tracking will temporarily break. This isn’t a problem for many use cases, but does limit intricate two handed interactions and scenarios like looking left while shooting right. Using external base stations can alleviate most of these issues, but that increases setup time and severely limits portability – and the path from controllers to base stations can still be occluded.

Magic Leap 1 and Pico Neo 2 used magnetic tracking. Unlike visible light, the magnetic field can pass through the human body so occlusion isn’t an issue. But magnetic tracking isn’t as precise as optical tracking systems can be, and adds significant weight and cost to the hardware.

Controllers with onboard cameras promise to solve the occlusion problem while maintaining high precision by tracking themselves in the same way inside-out headsets do – using a type of algorithm called Simultaneous Location And Mapping (SLAM). SLAM essentially works by comparing the acceleration (from an accelerometer) and rotation (from a gyroscope) to how high contrast features in your room are moving relative to the cameras. Initial SLAM algorithms were hand crafted, but most today use at least some machine learning.

The potential downsides of this approach are the cost of a chip powerful enough to run the tracking algorithm, the reduction in battery life due to the power that chip would draw, and the need to have a well-lit environment with high contrast features such as posters – though that limitation applies to inside-out headsets too. Some have suggested tracking quality may be reduced in fast movements due to motion blur, but this shouldn’t be any more of an issue than tracking fast moving LEDs – a global shutter sensor with a low exposure time should make this a non-issue.

Meta is seemingly also planning to use controllers with onboard inside-out tracking in its upcoming Project Cambria headset. Images of Quest-like controllers with cameras instead of an LED ring first leaked in September, and the rings aren’t present in the official reveal trailer either.

Both Magic Leap 2 and Project Cambria are slated to release this year, though neither has a specific release window. They’re very different products – ML2 is a transparent AR headset designed for enterprise while Cambria is an opaque headset for VR and mixed reality – but whichever launches first will be the first AR or VR system to use this new approach to controller tracking.

Magic Leap 2 Controller May Use On-board Inside-out Tracking, an Industry-first

A new photo of Magic Leap 2 appears to show the device’s controller equipped with cameras for inside-out tracking which would be the first time we’ve seen the approach employed in a commercial XR headset.

Though we learned plenty of interesting details about the forthcoming Magic Leap 2 AR headset back in January, it looks like there’s still some secrets left to uncover.

Image courtesy Peter H. Diamandis

A recent photo of Magic Leap 2 posted by Peter H. Diamandis is, as far as we know, the first time we’ve gotten a clear look at the front of the Magic Leap 2 controller. The photo clearly shows what appear to be two camera sensors on the controller, indicating a high likelihood it will have on-board inside-out tracking.

Image courtesy Peter H. Diamandis

The original Magic Leap 1 also had a motion controller, but it used magnetic tracking. This was the reason for the curious square sticking out of the headset’s right side (it contained a receiver that sensed the magnetic field emitted from the controller).

A square dangling off the side of Magic Leap 1 senses a magnetic field created by the controller | Image courtesy Magic Leap

Magic Leap 2 has ditched the square and appears to be moving to entirely on-board inside-out tracking for its controller. To our knowledge this will be the first time a commercial XR headset makes use of the approach; that is, assuming Magic Leap 2 beats Meta’s Project Cambria to market (the latter is also expected to use on-board inside-out tracking for its controllers, based on some leaked details, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet).

Other standalone XR headsets, like Quest 2, typically use headset-based inside-out tracking to track their controllers (or the user’s hands). That is: cameras on the headset look for the controllers (typically arrayed with IR LEDs) and use their location to map their movement relative to the headset.

Image courtesy Oculus

While this approach has proven effective, it only works when the controllers are in view of the headset’s cameras. That means it’s possible for the headset to lose track of the controllers if they spend too much time outside of the camera’s view (like if you held them too low, too high, or behind your back). Putting cameras on the controllers themselves would enable inside-out tracking that, in theory, has coverage no matter where the user holds it.

Image courtesy Oculus

Beyond ‘anywhere’ tracking coverage, putting inside-out tracking directly on the controller means the headset wouldn’t need to be covered in so many cameras (Quest 2 uses four cameras while Rift S tops that at five), and it means the elimination of the ‘tracking rings’ (seen on most standalone headset controllers) making them sleeker and perhaps less prone to breakage.

There’s more potential benefits too. Giving controllers their own inside-out tracking could make it easier to use a combination of input methods, like a controller in one hand and controllerless hand-tracking in the other. Currently that’s a challenge because the cameras on the headsets tend to use different exposure settings for tracking controllers compared to tracking hands. Furthermore, decoupling controller tracking from the headset has the potential to reduce controller tracking latency.

But, as they say, there is no free lunch. Giving controllers on-board inside out tracking likely means putting a dedicated processor inside with enough power to crunch the incoming images and compute a position, which we’d expect to result in higher costs and more battery drain compared to having simple IR LEDs on-board.

There’s also the issue of motion blur for the on-board cameras. While inside-out tracking has been shown to work well for headsets, controllers can move considerably faster, especially during intense games—so fast, in fact, that it prompted Valve to update its SteamVR Tracking tech to account for the speed of top Beat Saber players.

As you can imagine, swinging a camera around that fast is likely to induce motion blur across the image sensor, especially in darker scenes where the exposure time needs to be increased to gather more light.

Of course, Magic Leap 2 isn’t intended for gamers, so it’s possible that this wouldn’t be an issue for the headset’s enterprise-focused use-cases. Or maybe the image sensors on the controllers are fast enough to avoid motion blur even during quick movements?

Perhaps most likely the sensors aren’t above average, but the controller will simply lean primarily on IMU-based tracking until the controller slows down enough to get a proper position (this is the same approach that existing standalone headsets use to deal with controllers that occasionally leave the headset’s field-of-view).

In any case, we’ll know more as Magic Leap 2 approaches commercial availability. The headset is expected to launch this year but a specific release date hasn’t been announced yet. In the tweet which included the controller photo, Peter H. Diamandis said he would be hosting Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson at his Abundance 360 event at the end of April which could signal the next time the company will divulge official details on the headset.


Editor’s note: Before someone in the comments says ‘SteamVR Tracking tracking controllers have been doing inside-out tracking for years!’ the industry vernacular does not consider systems using artificial markers as ‘inside-out tracking’.

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Magic Leap 2 Specs Suggest A Best-In-Class Seethrough AR Headset

Magic Leap 2’s specs – at least some of them – were revealed this week in a presentation at SPIE Photonics West 2022.

While Microsoft HoloLens came out first targeted toward businesses, the original Magic Leap One launched in 2018 as the first augmented reality headset available to consumers, priced at $2300. After reportedly selling just 6000 units in the first six months, the company pivoted to targeting enterprise customers instead in 2019.

Magic Leap 2 was first teased back in late 2019 with a launch target of 2021, though no details were given. In October 2021 the company shared the first image and announced it will launch this year, claiming it will have the largest field of view of any transparent optics headset.

 

At Photonics West, Magic Leap’s VP of Optical Engineering Kevin Curtis revealed some key specs for Magic Leap 2 (ML2).

The headset apparently weighs 248 grams, down from Magic Leap 1’s 316 grams.

However, Magic Leap headsets use a tethered compute box attached to your waist rather than housing the battery & processor in the headset itself. Curtis says ML2′ new compute box is more than twice as powerful as ML1’s with “more memory and storage” too. While ML1 used an NVIDIA Tegra chip, Magic Leap announced a partnership with AMD in December.

ML1 has two variants to accommodate narrower and wider interpupillary distances (IPDs). Curtis claims ML2’s eyebox is twice as large meaning this is no longer necessary. The eyebox refers to the horizontal and vertical distance from the center of the lens your eyes can be and still get an acceptable image.

While ML1 uniquely had two focal planes so near and far virtual objects were focused at different distances, there was no mention of the same technology in the ML2 spec presentation.

ML2 seems to have its own unique optical technology though; a new feature called Dynamic Dimming. A major problem with see-through AR headsets is the inability to display the color black, since their optical systems are additive – they superimpose color onto a transparent lens, but black is the absence of color. Curtis claims dynamic dimming can vary the lens from letting through 22% of real world light to letting through just 0.3%. At 22% the real world will be visible even in dark rooms, 0.3% would let virtual objects remain visible even in bright outdoor conditions.

ML1 had one eye tracking camera per eye, but ML2 has two per eye, which Curtis says “improves image quality, minimizes render errors, and enables “segmented dimming”. The later use case wasn’t elaborated on, but may suggest the headset could vary the Dynamic Dimming level based on whether you’re looking at darker or lighter virtual objects.

Notably, Curtis did not reveal the resolution or the exact field of view. But CEO Peggy Johnson revealed it in November at Web Summit as approximately 70 degrees diagonal, up from 50 degrees in the original.

If we assume the aspect ratio shared in the October tease is accurate, that would mean a horizontal field of view of roughly 45 degrees and vertical field of view of roughly 55 degrees. This is significantly narrower than opaque passthrough headsets like LYNX R1, but much taller than competing seethrough headsets like HoloLens 2.

Magic Leap 1 is targeted toward enterprise but still available to individuals who want one. It’s unclear what sales path Magic Leap 2 will take, and no price or specific release date has yet been revealed.

Tons of New Magic Leap 2 Details Shed Light on Dynamic Dimming & More

Although it’s expected to launch this year, there’s still no firm release date on Magic Leap 2. However, the company has begun sharing details on the headset which suggests the launch is approaching.

This week at the SPIE Photonics West 2022 conference, Magic Leap’s VP of Optical Engineering, Kevin Curtis, took to the stage to share a bevy of new details on the headset. Attendee Nataliya Kosmyna shared portions of the presentation alongside some portions which cropped up over at the AR XR MR subreddit.

During the presentation Curtis detailed Magic Leap 2’s bevy of sensors, optical stack, Android foundation, and more.

The most interesting details to come from the presentation are perhaps about the headset’s dynamic dimming capability, which is a first among commercial AR headsets.

Dynamic Dimming Lenses

Image courtesy AR XR MR

Curtis shared that Magic Leap 2 can adjust the light transmission of its lenses from 22% to 0.3%. The former being something like sunglasses and the latter being closer to welding goggles. This wide range ought to make the headset usable even in very bright outdoor environments (though it will of course come at the cost of dimming the world around the user as well). Dynamic dimming is paired with a brightness range from 20–2,000 nits; combined, these capabilities should make the headset significantly more flexible than its predecessor, and similar headsets, when it comes to varied lighting conditions.

Also noted in the presentation, the dimming capability can refresh at 120Hz, and is “segmented” as well. The slides state this means that Magic Leap 2 lenses can “enable black,” presumably by selectively dimming only the part of the lens where black is needed in the image. On traditional transparent AR headsets it’s impossible to have ‘black’ as a color because black is the absence of light but the lenses have no way to stop light from passing through. Without access to the entire contents of Curtis’ talk, we don’t know how precisely the dimming capability can be segmented so it’s difficult to know if this will be a comparatively groundbreaking capability, or something more limited.

Curiously, dropping to the minimum 0.3% light transmission might even make Magic Leap 2 useful for fully immersive VR experiences where the real world is largely dimmed to make way for entirely virtual content. It remains to be seen if this is a use case the company is actively aiming for.

The Headset

About the headset itself, Curtis shared that Magic Leap 2 will come in just one size—a change from Magic Leap 1 which had a ‘large’ and ‘small’ variant. The reasoning behind having two sizes for ML1 appears to have been driven largely by a small eyebox and the lack of IPD adjustment, requiring two different sizes of the headset to try to cover a suitable range of the IPD spectrum. For Magic Leap 2, Curtis says the eyebox was doubled in size, apparently making it large enough for the company to move to a single headset size.

According to Curtis, Magic Leap 2 weighs just 248 grams (0.5 pounds). That’s a nearly 22% reduction over the original headset’s 316 grams (0.7 pounds), while furthering its lead in weight over HoloLens 2 which comes in at a much heftier 566 grams (1.2 pounds). Granted, Magic Leap 2 still relies on a tethered connection to a ‘Compute Pack’ which gives it a big advantage in the weight department over fully self-contained headsets.

ML2 will also include eye-tracking, with two cameras per-eye. As far as we know, that’s up from one camera per-eye on ML1, which could mean greater accuracy. Eye illumination is provided by six tiny LEDs which can be seen embedded in each lens.

Image courtesy Nataliya Kosmyna

It isn’t clear yet if Magic Leap 2 will have the same varifocal capabilities as ML1. Given the diagram shared by Curtis (further above)—which appears to show one waveguide per red, green, and blue color (instead of two per color as with ML1)—the feature may have been scrapped.

The headset will include a 12MP RGB camera for user-facing photo capabilities, like taking pictures & videos, scanning barcodes, and streaming video for ‘see-what-I-see’ use-cases. On-board audio is also confirmed.

Image courtesy Alessio Grancini

Two key things we don’t know yet are the resolution and field-of-view of Magic Leap 2. According to Curtis, Magic Leap 2 has “double” the field-of-view of ML1 (which is 50° diagonal), though we expect this means double the area, not double any of the linear dimensions. The company has previously shared this comparison of the ML2 field-of-view vs. ML1 in which we can see most of the gain comes in the vertical direction.

Image courtesy Magic Leap

Compute Pack

As for performance, Curtis indicates the Magic Leap 2 ‘Compute Pack’ will have 2–3 times the GPU & CPU performance of Magic Leap 1, including the addition of a dedicated co-processor for handling computer-vision operations, which he referred to as the CVPU (computer-vision processing unit).

Curtis didn’t specify Magic Leap 2’s processor, but the company has strongly hinted that it comes from AMD. Interestingly, Magic Leap 1 was based on Nvidia’s Tegra chipset, which was fairly novel for this kind of device.

AMD is also a somewhat novel choice for Magic Leap 2 as most devices in this category use chips from Qualcomm, including Magic Leap’s main competition, HoloLens 2. You may know AMD as a creator of desktop & laptop processors as well as GPUs, but the company also has a significant foothold in the console market as the longstanding provider of chips in Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Magic Leap 2 could represent AMD’s first significant entry into the XR space.

Image courtesy Nataliya Kosmyna

Magic Leap 2 also touts “more memory, storage, and battery life vs. competitors,” but we don’t have many specifics at this time. From the materials we have we know that ML2 will have USB-C charging, Bluetooth 5.1, and WiFi 802.11AX (AKA WiFi 6).

Continue on Page 2: Controller, Embracing Android »

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The Virtual Arena: Immersive Theater Breaks New Ground

The Virtual Arena

The application of immersive technology into the attractions and amusement landscape is covered by industry specialist Kevin Williams. In his latest Virtual Arena column – we visit the test project for a new kind of Immersive Theater – employing the latest technology, including Magic Leap AR headsets, making its debut in live performance.

Lost Origin
Image credit: Seamus Ryan

The diversity of location-based experiences is constantly growing, we have already covered in this column some of the related immersive presentations in the arts. And recently the team behind a new project invited the media to be the first to be immersed in a new audience experience. Called Lost Origin Experience – the endeavour has been self-styled as a boundary-breaking piece, combing performance, mixed reality to offer an “Immersive Theatre”. A fusing of technologies, including a partnership with Magic Leap to deploy their headsets as part of the performance. Allowing the audience to interact with both the physical and digital worlds.

The experience was developed by studio Factory 42, presented in partnership with the Almeida Theater and Sky. The work is a UK government-funded research and development project, part of the Innovate UK to push boundaries in immersive experiences (the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Audience of the Future initiative). Along with the whole unique aspect of this immersive theatre, is the careful attention to detail cemented using the full gambit of mixed reality (MR) applications. This is stated as being the first-ever large-scale visitor experience deployed with Magic Leap headsets. The whole project is a limited-time test run of the concept, being operational only for a one-month window, in London.

Having booked a slot, the theatre experience sees the guest recruited as a member of the organization called “Wing 7”, planning to carry out an investigation, codenamed “Operation Origin” – directed to arrive at the field base at Hoxton Docks, in London. The experience starts before arriving at the secret venue, as guests receive a mysterious video emailed to them before they arrive setting the scene, from the operations director. Upon arrival at the field base, the guest is taken into a briefing and introduced to the team and key players. Actors set the scene of a story of dark-web auctions, and secret activities unfold, and then it’s time to enter the adjoining premises and start the search for clues, and more!

Operation Origin
Image credit: Seamus Ryan

Without going into too much detail and revealing the compelling storyline and experience, we can reveal that the adventure takes the group through several rooms’ settings, though the experience is fundamentally broken into four key acts but is much more nuanced. The first offers an immersive puzzle section, then we move into an area of wonder and mystery, then a chance to wear the Magic Leap AR headsets and interact with the environment. And then finally the denouement, where the group get to decide the outcome.

As stated, Lost Origin Experience has played with all the toys in the toybox of immersive experiences. Essentially, we have at the front the use of LARP’ing. Live-action role-playing (LARP) has grown in popularity since the early murder mystery experiences, and more recently with the Secret Cinema kind of events. As we reported in our coverage of ‘The War of the Worlds’ VR experience, the use of theatrical production to drive the audience immersion and steer them through the narrative has grown in popularity combined with immersive entertainment. The Lost Origin offers a great cast, who worked hard to drive the experience for all the guests.

Lost Origin
Image credit: Seamus Ryan

Regarding the other elements, the surprising use of projection-mapping was cleverly and subtly achieved, with guests solving the puzzles and then being transported into a dream-like state. Alongside the projection mapping, the use of motion tracking allows the small audience to drive the story interacting with the narrative being revealed. The cast was ably supported by the live performances, masterfully steering the guests.

But it was the use of AR in this first of its kind immersive theatre performance that was the main area of interest. The developers had elected to use the Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets for the performance. The group of guests on the third act of the experience are helped to put on the systems, and then navigate around a unique location, and given glimpses of spirits and even transported back in time. The Magic Leap systems were able to offer a competent AR representation, though they were limited by their performance, and it was not a seamless experience. But the developers of the AR app had managed to squeeze as much as they could out of the hardware, and it did work with the narrative presented.

Magic Leap
Image credit: Seamus Ryan

For Magic Leap, the company has pivoted from consumer-facing towards wholly commercial (enterprise) development. Having even announced their plans for a Magic Leap Two, a new interpretation of their headset, with redesigned elements, for some time in 2022. The company has had their original hardware deployed in other pop-up attractions, most notably the deployment in AT&T flagship stores in America, running an experience based on HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ universe. Following troubling financial conditions for Magic Leap, and the exodus of senior management, a new CEO has repositioned the company, and secured new investment, to hopefully allow them to grow once again. The team behind Lost Origin worked with Magic Leap as far back as 2018, at the time as one of the only systems able to acquire for the research project.

Regarding the use of AR in such “Immersive Theater” and “Artainment” – several developers have attempted to harness this technology to that end. The most ambitious of these and one of the first mainstream applications was in ‘The Unreal Garden’, which launched as part of the ill-fated Onedome facility in 2018. Employing Microsoft HoloLens AR hardware. The experience proved so compelling that it has been re-launched now as a standalone experience. ‘The Unreal Garden 2.0’ has opened in San Francisco, continuing to expand the use of physical elements and digital illusion – with updated hardware (using the HoloLens 2) and new content.

Returning to London, and Lost Origin Experience – in conclusion, this was a great example of the development in immersive performance, and the strength in bringing strangers together to experience a narrative. A mixture of immersive escape room, with mixed reality experience and live-action performance – the whole thing lasted over 60-minutes and did not drag, seamlessly orchestrated. The experience will only be open for a short period, from 21st November till the 4th December, and will cost £30.00 (and £18.00 for 14–16-year-olds) all bookings online.

This latest example of Immersive Theater offered a glimpse of how tech can play its part in the grand illusion, and we look forward to seeing this kind of application evolve and grow.      

Magic Leap Won’t Make a Consumer Headset but May License Tech to Someone That Will

Magic Leap just gave us the first glimpse of its Magic Leap 2 AR headset earlier this week. Despite a consumer-focused start, the company has firmly pivoted into the enterprise segment. Comments from the CEO suggest there will be no consumer headset from Magic Leap in the near-term, but the company says its open to licensing its tech for the consumer space.

Despite nearly going bust last year, Magic Leap secured its near-term future with the announcement this week that it has raised an additional $500 million, alongside giving the first glimpse at the new and improved Magic Leap 2 AR headset which is due to ship next year. The company is making it clear that the device is designed (and will be priced) for the enterprise segment.

Image courtesy Magic Leap

In a Magic Leap blog post this week CEO Peggy Johnson outlined the company’s activities during her first year as CEO, and affirmed a long-term emphasis on the enterprise space. But she also said the company is open to licensing its tech to anyone building in the consumer sphere.

“While our core business objectives remain focused on enterprise solutions, there continues to be intense interest in the application of Magic Leap’s technology in the consumer space,” Johnson wrote. “In fact, we have received several requests to license our technology and will actively pursue these opportunities if they enhance our position and ability to innovate in the enterprise market.”

The last part is particularly telling… that the company will only consider lending its tech to the consumer space if it benefits its position in enterprise. It’s an interesting admission that both affirms the company’s enterprise focus while suggesting that it has no near-term plans to build products for consumers; that also sounds a lot like saying ‘we don’t want to compete with Facebook or Apple’.

Johnson, a former Microsoft executive vice president who took over as CEO of Magic Leap in 2020, writes that Magic Leap has “one of the most robust IP portfolios I’ve seen for a company of this scale,” and is clearly interested in leveraging its patented tech into an ongoing revenue stream.

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Official Magic Leap 2 Details Released, $500m New Funding Raised

Magic Leap 2

It certainly seems to be hardware season where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is concerned. HTC Vive has a special event planned this week, Lynx-R1 launched a Kickstarter, Canon EOS VR was unveiled and now the first proper look at Magic Leap’s next device. Not only that, the company has managed to raise a further $500 million USD in funding.

Magic Leap 2

Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson initially teased the first image on Monday before an interview with CNBC. This has been followed up with further imagery of a much sleeker looking device. In a similar arrangement to the original model, the Magic Leap 2 has a pair of central cameras but this time there are two additional sensors just below them. There’s an additional lens on the corner that looks tilted outwards by around 45-degrees, presumably for a wider capture field.

Actual specifications regarding the Magic Leap 2 haven’t been released just yet, Johnson has mentioned that the: “headset boasts critical updates that make it more immersive and even more comfortable,” increasing its field of view (FoV) – as seen in the image above – vertically rather than horizontally. It’ll also come with a dimming feature that the CEO says is: “a first-to-market innovation that enables the headset to be used in brightly lit settings.”

Johnson is also keen to point out that the Magic Leap 2 aims to achieve the company’s goal of a device suitable for “all day, everyday use”. “All day” would be quite the achievement considering the Magic Leap 1 was good for 3.5 hours of continuous use. That could indicate a much larger battery, improved power consumption or hot-swappable battery for users.

Magic Leap 2

To help bring the Magic Leap 2 to market, Magic Leap has managed to raise an additional $500 million on top of the billions previously raised.

“This investment is an important step in advancing Magic Leap’s mission to transform the way we work,” said Peggy Johnson in a blog post. “With ongoing support from our existing investors, Magic Leap will have greater financial flexibility and the resources needed to continue our growth trajectory as we expand on our industry-leading AR technology.”

Magic Leap 2 is already in select enterprise customer hands via an early access program. Sales of the headset will begin at some point in 2022. For continued updates, keep reading VRFocus.