On Wednesday, June 6, the people at Magic Leap finally (FINALLY) decided to give the public a dedicated, slow, feature-by-feature walkthrough of the Magic Leap One: Creator Edition. How was it? About as good as it gets without actually getting to see what images look like through the device when wearing it.
Host Alan Noon, Magic Leap's senior learning resources technical artist, was joined by Shanna De Iuliis from the company's technical marketing team, for the second installment of the company's Twitch series. Apparently, when you talk to people who smirk knowingly and talk about how they've tried Magic Leap but can't talk about it, De Iuliis is one of the people they've met but can't talk about.
Although the demo was fairly limited, De Iuliis did a great job of explaining the specific use-cases for the device, how it works, and what the smaller features of the device do to enhance the experience.
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And despite Magic Leap's love of mystery, this wasn't just a hardware flash and dash, De Iuliis got into specifics, such as how to mount the Lightpack computing module to your pants pocket (it's not meant to be worn on a belt) and how to actually put the device on your head by using the retractable headband component.
She also walked through how the device first needs to calibrate itself to your particular eyesight profile. This is important because the device has cameras that point inward to track the user's gaze, utilizing gaze tracking for some interface elements, as De Iuliis explained during the demo session. She also talked about how the device can be used for voice control interactions.
According to De Iuliis, about one in five people who try the Magic Leap One report feeling the virtual objects that weren't actually there/tangible. "By breaking the boundaries of the [traditionally rectangular] screen, we've found that it makes experiences much more impactful," said De Iuliis.
Toward the end of the demo, Noon actually (gasp!) turned the device on, thus erasing any notions that the company may have been trotting out industrial design prototypes in recent months rather than an actual working device. However, the team stopped short of actually showing off a demo of an app, which would have been challenging (and potentially damaging) given the sometimes poor visual quality and spotty streaming reliability of some Twitch streams.
But the team did answer a few questions about the device. Can you use it outside? Yes, but it's currently optimized for indoor use (some outdoor scenarios might give the device too many objects to track effectively). Is the resolution sufficient to allow you to use it to read books? According to De Iuliis, absolutely.
And what is that boxy shape hanging down on the right side (near the front lens) of the Lightwear device? (This has been a subject of much debate on Magic Leap-obsessed forums.) It turns out that it's nothing mysterious or technically exotic, it's just the antenna for the handheld control unit.
Also, Magic Leap doesn't recommend wearing glasses while using the device, but the company is working to offer prescription lens versions in the future. And for the super hardcore augmented reality fans out there, the Magic Leap One does not come with a mounting stand, so there's your call to action, third-party accessory makers.
It was almost weird finally seeing someone (other than Shaq) just put the device on while explaining how it works. As well designed as it looks, it has a fairly radical look in terms of something you'd expect to see someone wearing while sitting at a Starbucks. That said, De Iuliis made putting on the headset, and the hip-mounted module seems relatively standard.
Hopefully, the price, which still hasn't been revealed, will be accessible enough for most consumers even to consider being able to use it at a cafe. We'll know all later this year.