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/ 16.08.2018

Magic Leap – An Evolutionary Step Forward for Humanity

– Sol Rogers
Founder/CEO, REWIND

I strongly believe that mixed reality is the future of humanity. The opportunity to decouple ourselves from our physical bounds will change how we exist in the world.

Just consider the impact it will have on travel. If we can have a meeting as if we were in the same room via a mixed reality device, there’s less need for business travel and commuting – we’d save a whole lot of time. Or consider our current need for expensive physical screens – TVs, laptops, and mobile phones for instance – if these were displayed in mixed reality we could have as many as we wish, on any surface of any size, for no cost.

And what about education? If we have an always-on AI assistant that knows what we are saying, where we are looking, and what we are trying to achieve – plus digital overlays bringing knowledge to us in real-time – do we need to learn skills in the same way? Just imagine opening the bonnet of a broken down car and knowing exactly what to do to fix it…mixed reality will democratise intelligence.

This future vision has just got closer with the release of Magic Leap One.

What is Magic Leap?

Many will have heard of Magic Leap – the startup that raised billions of dollars without launching a single product – but as it’s been shrouded in secrecy since its inception seven years ago, many don’t know much more than its name.

With backers such as Google and J.P Morgan, the company has constantly been hitting the headlines, despite a lack of product. On 8th August this all changed. Magic Leap’s first product went on sale in America for $2,295.

Magic Leap consists of three main components: a ‘Lightwear’ headset, a pair of computerised goggles; the ‘Lightpack’, a small computer which clips to your pocket and houses a chip from Nvidia that provides power to the headset; and a 6dof controller that allows you to interact with the experiences.

Magic Leap promised to make the ‘unreal feel real’ via its design and technology which lets in “natural light waves together with softly layered synthetic lightfields. Both the real world and virtual light rays initiate neural signals that pass from the retina to the visual part of the brain, creating unbelievably believable experiences.”

In short, it’s supposed to fool your brain into thinking the virtual objects set against real-world environments all look natural.

What is the difference between AR and MR?

Mixed Reality is a significant advancement of Augmented Reality (AR) – the technology behind 2016’s Pokémon Go phenomenon.

Whilst the core premise of both AR and MR is similar – they both add digital elements into the real world –  the crucial difference is the underlying technology. Mixed Reality is (for the moment, at least) headset-based, whereas AR is viewed through a flat-screen such as a smartphone or tablet. Mixed Reality is also aware of the geometry of the environment around you – using it as the canvas for you to create immersive content that is defined by the space you are in.

Microsoft’s HoloLens was the first example of MR we could get our hands on in the wild, and Magic Leap’s offering will help further define and push the category.

What will be the biggest differences between the HoloLens and Magic Leap?

Having worked with both devices, we can say that raw processing power is the biggest difference. The Magic Leap One represents an almost incomparable jump forward in graphical processing power when lined up against the HoloLens. Add to that an increased field of view – 43% increase over the HoloLens – plus moving the battery and processing to a belt pack to make the headset lighter, and you can see a clear step forward.  

On a more general level, HoloLens is solving enterprise needs, while ML is looking at bringing a world of wonder and delight to our way of living. However, over time, the choice of mixed reality technology supplier will melt away and we will be left with the most important bit…the content they display.

 

Why is Magic Leap an exciting development?

The jump in processing power will allow developers to create much more compelling and believable graphics, which will result in more seamless and enjoyable experiences. This is an evolutionary step forward we all need.

However, it must be remembered that this is a first gen device from a new hardware and software manufacturer and should be taken almost as a beta. It is aimed at content creators, to get to grips with the platform and possibilities within the framework. It’s an opportunity to start exploring what could be built within this framework, rather than to define the limits of the framework. This is a journey with a road map, and I would be very surprised if ML has put every trick in the book into its first device. There will be a roadmap for improvements and new features already heavily underway and consumer devices (the Magic Leap One Creator Edition is aimed at artists and developers) are yet to be announced.

What does this mean for brands?

ML Founder, Abovitz, says: “It’s got all these infinite possibilities” and that’s what makes it exciting. MR and Magic Leap will add new interactions, apps, games, and experiences we have yet to imagine to our world. Our everyday reality will be transformed in numerous ways to enhance learning, communication, and play.

It’s still early days though – there isn’t a consumer focused product available yet – so brands looking to work with Magic Leap need to be careful not to jump on the hype bandwagon and use the technology for the right reasons.  

Mixed reality promises to be a genuinely transformational technology. Put simply, it’s the future. Experiences that maximise the visual capabilities of MR can create moments that surpass anything in another medium. Brands are constantly looking for new engaging ways to connect with consumers, so creating an MR experience feels like the natural progression for forward thinking brands that are focused on innovation, rather than reach.

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