Today, during Magic Leaps monthly developer live stream, we got a full hardware demonstration of the Magic Leap One. These streams are targeted directly at developers so they likely won’t always be interesting to the general consumer but this week was a big one. Shanna De Iullis, who operates demos at Magic Leap, walked through the hardware in the best detail we have seen yet. Here is what we learned.
There are a lot of them. It is hard to tell what divots are cameras, what are depth sensors and what are just LEDs but there could be at most 8 cameras or sensors (two appear to be facing the sides) on the device. This includes one “world camera” that can be used to take pictures and video. Don’t worry, they made sure to point out there is an LED that activates to let you know when that is happening (or even when recording audio) so it won’t be very effective spy gear.
If that wasn’t enough they have two more cameras that are inward facing which you can just see in the below image at the base of the lenses. This provides eye tracking capabilities to the device and is something we here at GPU of the Brain are very excited about. This is a capability that hasn’t been on other notable head mounted displays and provides an excellent user input paradigm.
We get a good look at the lenses here. They seem to fill a good portion of the viewports and allow ample light pass through. You can see on the left side of the lenses two bands that are presumably part of the image injection. We won’t get a good idea of quality and FOV until we get our hands on the device but at least this will put to rest fears of the lenses being to dark.
It was also confirmed that prescription lenses will fit inside the device. This should make Magic Leap usable for those that require glasses.
Speakers and Microphones
The device has two inward facing speakers that appear to be similar to the Oculus Go. They aren’t headphones in the traditional sense as they do not go into your ear or completely cover them but simply project sound towards your ear. You won’t get any sound isolation from this device. The will deliver spatialized audio.
As well as speakers, there are going to be a set of microphones on the device to allow for voice input and control. Having more than one microphone should make for good voice recognition.
Yes, it has one. Thank goodness. Bucking misguided trends by silly hardware companies they have given the people what they want! And yes it also has bluetooth.
Charging and Ports
Magic Leap is using USB-C to both charge the device and give you the ability to connect the device to a computer. The latter will likely be used primarily by developers to deploy content and test out their creations. It is great that we are getting a standard port and not something proprietary.
We got a chance to see the controller from all angles. The button on the front is both the power button and the home button. They confirmed that this button will bring up a launcher where you can select different applications on the device which should make it easy to jump in and out of the content you want. The large touchpad above that will provide basic input. There are lights around the touchpad that can be used to aid the user with visual feedback on how to use an application.
To aid in fitting the device to your head there are a number of interchangeable components on the headset. The first is the “browpad”. There are different thickness of browpads that can be fit to the headset. This should allow the device to fit snuggly against your head and ensure the lenses are not too far from your eyes.
The nosepad is also interchangeable. This fit is important so that your head is aligned correctly in the device. Misalignment will mean a lowering of fidelity of the imagery as well as the eye tracking not working properly. I have some concern that this nosepad looks a bit pinchy but we will have to wait to see the truth of that.
Putting it on
Shanna did a full walkthrough of how to put on all the components of Magic Leap. The first component is the lightpack. This fits nicely into your front or back pocket. Interestingly, you cannot put the full device in your pocket as it is actively cooled by fans. This is a good indication the performance of the device might be a cut above that of a smartphone as phones are not actively cooled.
The headset is easily expandable so that you can fit it to your head whatever shape it may be. It is unknown how tightly this will cling to your head but it looks like it could potentially loosen during use. We will have to try it to ensure this is not the case.
Q & A
Towards the end of the video the hosts did a Q & A from the twitch chat. As terrifying as that moderation must have been there were some interesting questions that were actually answered. I’ll list a few points here:
- The device is for indoor use. The reasons for this are primarily limitations in sensors. The distance of the sensors are limited and the complexity of the geometry outdoors is far greater than indoors. They claim that blocking out the sun is fairly easy but this sensor hurdle is something they are still working on.
- Release date is still on target for 2018
- Text resolution is something they have spent a lot of time on and are proud of the result. In particular for a web browser. There should be no issue for reading text
- The controller is tracked by the headset and is 6DOF. The square box on the headset is an antenna for the controller tracking. This is almost certainly magnetic tracking that was guessed at previously on this blog and has not been seen in a device of this nature before.
- There are two sizes of device. A standard and a large.
Remember next month to tune in again to the live stream as these videos seem to be a treasure trove of Magic Leap information. Compared to the straws we were grasping at last year, it is amazing to see the device up close while being shown how it works.