Is Magic Leap finally bringing mixed reality to the masses?
After four years of hype, Magic Leap’s mixed reality (MR) glasses may be about to materialise. In a live streamed developer chat on 11th July, the company announced that their flagship headset, Magic Leap One, will be available to buy in September.
They also released a pre recorded video demo of a new developer sample application called Dodge, in which a user interacts with a small rock throwing golem. The video shows the user making a pinching motion to act as a button press. Later on, the whole hand is also used to bat a boulder out of the way, demonstrating the effective hand tracking and gesture interaction capability of the Magic Leap One.
Whilst the video is certainly a step in the right direction towards the arrival of mixed reality technology, it received a less than enthusiastic reception from many of Magic Leap’s followers. This is understandable for a company which has previously released teaser footage including a visualisation of the solar system, a whale emerging from the floor of a school gymnasium, and a demo of a user shooting down rogue robots in his office. Predictably, after this, many people found the pre recorded video of a small rock throwing character distinctly unimpressive.
Responding to this criticism, Magic Leap’s co founder Rony Abrovitz later tweeted that the video was a teaching tool for the device’s developer community. There are inherent difficulties in live streaming video from mixed reality headsets, and Abrovitz stated that no 2D medium can accurately portray the experience of using Magic Leap One.
The wonders of mixed reality technology, then, must be experienced to be believed. On the one hand, given how complicated it is to integrate our eyes and brains with digital objects, any successful foray into MR is impressive – no matter how simple the application. On the other hand, Magic Leap One has so far been four years and $2.3bn worth of funding in the making. Incredible concept videos created a huge amount of hype, which this new demo fails to live up to. This means that even if Magic Leap One is released in September as promised, some of its advocates are for now sure to remain disappointed.
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