Studio216's Magic Leap Review

 Magic Leap headset, controller and lightpack.

Magic Leap headset, controller and lightpack.

Trying out the Magic Leap headset is another exciting step in fulfilling Studio216’s quest for delivering world class enterprise AR content and platforms….we were personally fitted for our new Magic Leap One headset!  As one of the first agencies to develop software for the Microsoft HoloLens, we are heartened to see market validation by others entering the XR arena. A few of our team members review the new device for you, specifically: Jamie Fleming (CEO) and Richard Dormer(Sr. Experience Designer).


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Jamie's Thoughts

Our Altoura spatial visualization platform is a HoloLens mainstay for visualizing commercial real estate. What impact will the Magic Leap One have on our real estate clients? Below are a few of our initial thoughts:

THE PROS

Smaller form factor. This is a trend in the right direction. Nobody loves wearing a large, heavy device on their head. It's critical hardware developers continue to invest in the technology to reduce the overall form factor. We have yet to reach the tipping point between hand-held mobile devices and head-mounted displays, but Magic Leap One takes a practical approach of reducing the headset by offloading a small, pocket sized ancillary device. 

Improved optics- Who knew living in the overcast Pacific Northwest would ever list too much sunlight as a problem!  However, our east facing conference room makes early morning XR experiences nearly impossible as the daylight washes out any traces of the holograms.  Magic Leap One provides an improved visual experience with its Light Field technology. We still have a way to go before the headsets will work effectively on an outdoor construction site, but this improvement allows greater flexibility as clients seek to use this technology in a variety of environmental situations.  

Depth of field.  Much of our work over the past decade has been creating cinematic immersive experiences to breath life into environments that don’t yet exist.  The Magic Leap One does a nice job allowing content creators the ability to throw mood and focus into a scene by controlling the depth of field.  We are all emotional creatures and creating compelling scenes is crucial to sales performance in real estate.

THE CONS

Accessibility. The fact that Magic Leap One doesn’t support users with corrective lenses is a major blow to the 75% of us that wear prescription glasses.  How can we look smart and 'techy' at the same time if we have to remove our glasses to use an XR headset? Joking aside, in order for users to adopt XR technology we need to remove barriers.  Not being able to focus clearly is a huge barrier.

FOV.  One of the most common initial reactions users have to Mixed Reality headsets is the FOV is not a big enough.  While Magic Leap One improves the overall FOV over the HoloLens, it doesn’t go far enough to make a difference.  I believe that this issue is overblown in general, as 85% of of users quickly forget the limited FOV as they become immersed in the experience, but the goal should be to overcome any initial adverse reactions to Mixed Reality.  

In summary, I believe the Magic Leap One is a very positive development in the quest to remain present in our augmented environment.  After years of hype and anticipation it is encouraging to have an actual piece of functioning hardware in our hands. My blood pressure is reduced seeing major players tangibly enter into the foray of Mixed Reality- something that validates the promise of bringing unbuilt worlds to reality.

Richard's Thoughts

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Magic Leap is a welcome addition to the augmented reality industry. With its wider field of view and more powerful processor compared to the HoloLens, it pushes forward the capabilities and fidelity that customers demand. Whereas with HoloLens you might have to stand back about 10 feet to fit a desk sized model in your view, with Magic Leap it feels like you only have to stand back about half the distance to view that same object.  This will help foster more immersive experiences for people looking at architectural spaces. And some of our initial tests indicate that we can push between 2-3 times as complex of a 3D model while maintaining good frame-rate, this will allow for more detailed spaces!

The form factor for the Magic Leap is an interesting departure from HoloLens. The HoloLens relies on a ring that fits tightly to your head and allows the optics to essentially float over your nose, the Magic Leap really balances right on the bridge of your nose with the rest of it sitting high on the back of your head. Neither method is particularly intuitive to new users, but after using both I think HoloLens is more comfortable to wear. HoloLens also has the advantage that users can wear glasses, whereas Magic Leap will require a special optical adapter for people with vision issues, to be available sometime in the future.

The other major new idea that Magic Leap has introduced is the main processing power and battery being not on your head, but wired to a separate “puck” that you clip to your pocket.  The main advantage of this is that the headwear is much lighter than the HoloLens. While it generally works out well, the puck isn’t small enough to slip into your pocket sadly and needs fresh air to cool anyways. The cord can be a slight hassle to deal with when taking the Magic Leap on and off, so sharing it with other people is not an ideal option. It favors a longer use time with a single person.

The Magic Leap also comes with a spatially tracked controller out of the box instead of defaulting to hand gestures like the HoloLens.  This too is interesting and honestly to me more of a user-preference. While the controller is easy to use, initially it feels like it abstracts the interface.  You feel like you are interacting with a series of little windows instead of a full 3D environment. The HoloLens hand gestures do allow for a more natural, truly 3D interfaces, but there are distinct limitations to how well the current HoloLens can track your hand and fingers, not to mention it just takes a while for people to learn its unique interface style. I expect there to be interesting capabilities with Magic Leap’s controller in the future.

And while HoloLens has been out for several years now with a fair amount of samples to choose from, Magic Leap has a very limited suite of apps to try out right now and a lot of them feel like 3D conversions of generic 2D concepts, like photo galleries.. it's hard to get a full sense of its capabilities without developing your own prototypes. Generally the software feels very much a work in progress and we expect to see that drastically change in the next year.

In the end, Magic Leap is a very logical progression of augmented headset technology. Some things are better, some things are just different. Which is great, because choice is good!  While we are still evaluating the hardware for quality and comfort, Magic Leap is still really new and pretty unpolished. The best news is that it's finally here and it is a solid competitor to HoloLens. This competition should yield more technical advances and increasing performance that can only benefit us all in the long term.