The Magic Leap One Creator Edition headset is now available for purchase, but don’t expect to see them popping up all over the place. Magic Leap is asking an astounding $2,295 for the first device built with its mixed reality technology. We’ve known for some time that it wouldn’t be a cheap device, but Rony Abovitz, the company founder, said to expect the price of a high-end tablet, not a high-end PC.
Magic Leap is shipping the One Creator Edition headset to select states around the country. The company’s website includes a tool that allows you to check availability based on your zip code. If Magic Leap is shipping to your state, you can order a headset today.
In July, Magic Leap revealed the core specifications of the Magic Leap One Creators Edition. The headset features a companion device called a Lightpack, which contains the computing power and storage. Magic Leap had previously said that the device includes a Nvidia Parker SoC with a single Denver 2.0 core, and two ARM Cortex A57 cores. The Parker SoC is part of Nvidia’s Tegra TX2, which includes two Denver cores and four ARM cores. We thought it odd that Nvidia would create a new design for Magic Leap. However, it turns out the device includes the extra cores, but only half the hardware is addressable for Magic Leap software.
The Lightpack also includes an Nvidia Pascal GPU with 256 cores and 8GB of memory. Magic Leap has not revealed the clock frequencies of the Parker SoC or the Pascal GPU. The Magic Leap One Creator’s Edition also includes 128GB of internal storage, with 95GB available for storage. Magic Leap’s LuminOS eats up the rest of the space.
The headset also includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can drive the device for up to 3-hours of continuous use. Power is delivered through a USB Type-C port. Wireless options include Bluetooth 4.2 or Wi-Fi 802.11 ac/b/g/n.
Magic Leap also developed a wireless controller that offers 6-degrees of freedom control, without the need for cameras. The company didn’t reveal much about the controller, but an FCC document uncovered in June revealed that the controller includes electromagnetic tracking technology.
Magic Leap secured an astounding amount of funding to develop its technology and produce its hardware. In 2014, Google and other investors handed over $500 million, followed by a $793 million series C seed investment led by Alibaba in 2016, and earlier this year the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia topped up Magic Leaps coffers with another $431 million. We would have guessed that the company would subsidize the purchase price to accelerate app development. Magic Leap’s strategy doesn’t make a lot of sense. Independent and small-scale development companies dominate VR and AR app development. The big development companies, which have the resources to justify the expense of such a headset, have been slow to adopt VR because of the small install base.
Even so, I get the impression that the Magic Leap One is going to be a failure, at least in this initial offering. From what I've seen, the overall design seems pretty bad. To start, just look at the thing. AR is intended to be worn for extended periods throughout the day, but you're not going to want to wear this. It's not like a pair of eyeglasses, or even something like Google Glass that can kind of blend into the background. The Magic Leap One is bulky, and looks like the most awkward pair of coke-bottle glasses ever.
Even beyond how silly it looks, and the fact that almost no one will want to wear it in public, it's also likely to be uncomfortable to wear for extended lengths of time. In addition to being a bulky piece of plastic strapped around one's head, there's also a thick cable running down to the processing/battery box strapped to the wearer's waist. And perhaps most importantly, it's going to have a narrow field of view. Not just the limited area where overlaid objects can appear, but even one's real world surroundings will be significantly obstructed around the edges due to the depth of the thing. It will be like wearing a pair of blinders, blocking out your view of everything that is not directly in front of you. Apparently, the lenses will block a majority of passing light as well, making them like wearing a pair of sunglasses indoors.
VR headsets can get away with being a bit bulky, since they are intended to be worn for relatively short periods of time in a confined space, and their entire point is to completely replace your view with that of a virtual world. AR, on the other hand, is intended to be enhancing your existing view of the real world, and should not be significantly impeding it. Magic Leap One appears to completely fail at delivering AR that people might be willing to wear for more than short bursts, so it won't be getting used throughout the day to augment one's daily life. And for entertainment purposes, a proper VR headset would likely provide a far better experience, especially considering how weak the onboard graphics appear to be in this device. Maybe it will find some use in certain business/industrial settings, but as a consumer device, this initial product looks like a flop. The price is also pretty absurd, and is unlikely to attract many developers. Perhaps they know that the device has major issues, and are just trying to cut their losses, knowing that it will never take off in its current form.
As for "sending VR to the grave one expensive device at a time", VR already has a number of reasonably priced devices available. There are plenty of Windows Mixed Reality headsets with controllers available in the $200-$300 price range, and the Oculus Rift with touch controllers has been $400 since last year. I do think some devices like the Vive Pro are overpriced though, at least as consumer products, and it would be nice to see a new generation of VR headsets priced in the sub-$500 range.
That said, they'd be smart to setup a research grant program, or something, to get subsidized units in the hands of top university researchers and maybe a handful of entrepreneurs.
I'm willing to wait for the reviews. I agree that this isn't really going to catch on among the general public, but I don't know if that's even their plan.
insane cost: check
niche market: check
expected outcome: epic fail
They posted a trailer yesterday showing off more of these smartphone-quality AR gaming experiences...
Along with this thing, which at least manages to look somewhat interesting...
But what these videos don't show is the actual device's very limited field of view. Aside from blocking off the peripheral view of your actual surroundings, the area where overlayed graphics appear covers a rectangular region just 30 degrees vertical by 40 degrees horizontal, according to a leak. That's a little larger than what the two and a half year old Hololens offers, but still only a tiny fraction of the field of view found in current VR headsets...
And without a reasonable field of view, most of these entertainment experiences are going to suffer. That interactive audio-visual experience actual looks kind of cool in the trailer, until you realize that objects are going to be cut off at the edges of that rectangular region. And ultimately, what benefit is there to any of these experiences being for AR, rather than VR? It might initially be kind of novel having little characters running around on your real-world coffee table, but in what way is that better than having them on a virtual coffee table, or in some far more interesting environment?
I think they're just SDK examples and demos. It's not like those are the only things you can do with AR.
If you don't believe in the value proposition of AR, then just stop. If you want to see what's possible only with AR, check out some of MS' more recent Hololens demo videos.
You might be ready to litigate AR, never having tried it (?), but you'll have to go there without me.
In fact, it's a good thing you weren't calling the shots in the early PC industry, or else we might not have one. A lot of new technology is clunky, at first.