Dubbed the Magic Maps SDK, the toolkit enables developers to pull 3D vector maps, satellite maps, and elevation data of any location in the world into their apps. The Unity plugin takes advantage of the close integration between Magic Leap's Lumin OS and Unity to make bringing map visualization into apps easy and seamless.
"The mixed reality headset allows for a more emersive [sic] experience than any other device we've built on thanks to the 6DOF controller, eye tracking, and hand gestures," wrote Jim Miller, a user experience engineer at Mapbox in a blog post. "Magic Leap has a 'zero iteration' feature with a live remote to Unity. So when tweaking the size of the map or any other small change, the update appears immediately in the headset."
Given Magic Leap's spatial computing capabilities, the integration of Mapbox into Magic Leap One's apps could give users a unique view of Earth's topography. To this end, the Mapbox development team has shared demos of AR experiences that can be built with the SDK. On display are Magic Leap's occlusion capability, controller interaction with mapped terrain, and, unfortunately, some field-of-view clipping.
For some additional inspiration on the possibilities of the Magic Maps SDK, developers need not look any further than the Fitness AR app for iOS. Built with Mapbox and ARKit, the app lets runners and hikers visualize their traveled routes on 3D elevation maps projected onto their physical environment. (Mapbox "acquihired" the development team behind Fitness AR in Dec. 2017.)
Magic Box is available as an early-access preview for interested developers, who can contact Miro at email@example.com to start working with the toolkit.
Despite the recent release of Google Maps API for location-based AR apps, Mapbox has positioned itself as the go-to provider of location services for augmented reality developers, with Snapchat as its most-prominent AR client. Mapbox boosted its service portfolio earlier this year with the release of the Mapbox AR SDK for building location-based and multi-user AR apps, and more recently added support for points of interest to its Maps SDK for Unity.
By hustling to push out support for Magic Leap through Unity, Mapbox continues to stay ahead of other location services at an important juncture in the lifecycle of Magic Leap One and its Lumin OS. As a result, early adopters of Magic Leap will likely become more familiar with Mapbox, and perhaps develop an affinity for the tool as the ecosystem matures.