What you need to know about Magic Leap One
So, there is now a competitor to Microsoft’s HoloLens in the market. To Augmented Reality enthusiasts, this is nothing new: For several months now, all the AR-focused media channels and social media have been abuzz with news and reports on the “magical” new darling in AR. I also had a look at the new Magic Leap One.
Many tech mags and independent experts have given their two cents on the device, on what makes it great, where it falls short and how it compares to HoloLens. Most of these reports have just focused on the technology itself. With Zühlke being a provider of larger industrial solutions, however, I’d like to offer my own take on Magic Leap One by pointing out how it holds up in industrial scenarios.
Insight in brief
- The Magic Leap One is intuitive to use and in most aspects technically on the same level as the HoloLens 1.
- The design, software and marketing of the headset is designed for the end customer market and entertainment.
- Due to its hardware design, the Magic Leap One is only suitable for industrial use to a limited extent.
Making tech more accessible
From the very first presentations of Magic Leap’s new, shiny device, it has become apparent that Magic Leap doesn’t want their headset to be just a developer kit for AR experiments. They have pitched their device as the next big thing in Mixed Reality, a leap towards making the tech more accessible and more compelling for everyone. Well, they did make good on some of that promise.
The controller also allows for some pretty clever interaction schemes. You no longer have just the direction of your gaze and the position of your hands to work with, but also six degrees of freedom (6DoF) when moving the controller, three buttons (one of them being a system button) and a trackpad. Depending on the situation at hand, your controller becomes a laser pointer, a handle for moving and rotating objects, a phaser gun – the possibilities somewhat resemble what you can find in the hand controllers of VR systems like HTC Vive and Windows MR.
And, yes, from a purely technical point of view, Magic Leap can also hold its ground. Graphics and audio are at least on a par with HoloLens, with the spatial mapping of your surroundings even having a small edge on HoloLens: Even objects with a diameter of about 5 cm are properly tracked.
- There is one more issue concerning the system’s performance. While most of it is on a par with or even superior to HoloLens, the head tracking is where the device is lacking significantly. On HoloLens, we’re used to rock-solid motion tracking and perfectly stable holograms, provided by the device’s Holographic Processing Unit (HPU). Magic Leap One on the other hand handles everything in software, and this becomes apparent here. Head tracking works mostly fine, as long as you always keep some trackable environmental features in your field of view. But once tracking becomes unstable, the device has big trouble regaining its bearings, and holograms start jittering and drifting heavily. So, for use cases requiring content being rendered world-locked at high precision, Magic Leap is probably not suitable.
So, at the end of the day, what does all this leave us with? In my opinion, a pretty great device, with a focus on very different scenarios than HoloLens. Magic Leap wants to reach everyone with Mixed Reality, even the average consumer, and their efforts and inspirational marketing in this regard are admirable. It remains yet to be seen whether they’ll be successful in bringing the magic of Mixed Reality to the people. But that’s also going to depend on us – the developers.