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posted by martyb on Monday December 12 2016, @04:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the magic-look-before-you-magic-leap dept.

A paywalled story by The Information — The Reality Behind Magic Leap — criticized Magic Leap for the company's $4.5 billion valuation and lack of shipping products. The company is working on an augmented reality product that may prove to be inferior to competing designs such as Microsoft's HoloLens:

In The Information article, Magic Leap is said to use cumbersome equipment in its demonstrations that is at odds with the elegant design of the sunglasses-like product the company said it intends to build. Instead of a sleek pair of shades and low-impact tethering to a small battery pack, the demonstration required a helmet-sized device called "WD3," or "wearable device three," leashed to a desktop computer that the reviewer described as displaying "jittery and blurry" imagery.

This is apparently the same gear that Magic Leap execs showed investors, such as Alibaba and Google, in the lead-up to its $793 million Series C round of funding earlier this year. Previously, the company had used a refrigerator-sized device known internally as "the Beast" in demonstrations, a piece of hardware offering visuals that may prove unattainable in smaller appliances, at least anytime soon.

The headset that The Information previewed, the WD3, is not the latest prototype, which is dubbed PEQ, or "product equivalent," as The Information notes. Though former employees told the tech news site that the PEQ spectacles use similar technology to Microsoft's HoloLens, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz disputed the claim in the article and said it "already produced images with more depth that look better" than the $3,000 competitor.

The article also claims that a promotional video implied to be demonstrating the company's technologies was produced by a special effects studio instead.

Not to be confused with Leap Motion. Also at The Verge, CNBC, PC Magazine , and MIT.

Original Submission

Related Stories

Magic Leap Opens Up Orders for $2,295 "Creator Edition" Augmented Reality Headset 21 comments

After years of hype, Magic Leap starts selling $2,300 AR headset

After years of behind-closed-doors demos and over-the-top hype, Magic Leap's augmented reality glasses took one more step towards reality today. The company has opened up orders for the $2,295 "Creator Edition" of its first headset, the Magic Leap One.

That price includes in-person delivery and setup of the developer-focused hardware, though that delivery is only available in select US cities for the time being—Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle will be covered on day one. Those in other locations have to reserve a spot and wait for wider availability.

The hand-delivery is in part to determine which of two adjustable sizes for the headset is most appropriate for you—Magic Leap says "you'll be measured upon delivery to ensure the perfect fit." Magic Leap also says "limited quantities" are being made available now and that delivery of current orders will take place within "120 days and typically much sooner."

Compare the price to the $3,000-$5,000 developer versions of Microsoft's HoloLens, or the $1,500 Google Glass.

It requires a connected "lightpack" computer that clips onto a pocket or shoulder strap. The device has an Nvidia Tegra X2 chipset (2 Denver 2.0 cores, 4 ARM Cortex A57 cores, with one Denver core and two of the A57 cores accessible to developers), 8GB of memory, 128GB of storage, and a battery supposedly offering 3 hours of use. It also comes with a wireless handheld controller similar to ones offered by Oculus, Samsung, etc., although it is fully tracked by the headset's cameras, offering "a full range of motion" according to The Verge.

The field of view of the device is 40° horizontal, 30° vertical. This is larger than HoloLens's 30° horizontal, 17.5° vertical field of view, but is far less than that of VR headsets (typically 100-110° horizontal, and 200-210° horizontal for the Pimax and StarVR headsets) and human vision (around 220° horizontal when including peripheral vision).

Detailed review at The Verge.

Previously: Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware
Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?

Original Submission

Magic Leap Accuses Chinese Company of Copying Trade Secrets 9 comments

Secretive Magic Leap Says Ex-Engineer Copied Headset for China

Magic Leap Inc., a U.S. startup that makes a headset to project digital objects onto the real world, accused one of its former engineers of stealing its technology to create his own augmented reality device for China.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Magic Leap alleges that Chi Xu, who left in 2016, exploited its confidential information to "quickly develop a prototype of lightweight, ergonomically designed, mixed reality glasses for use with smart phones and other devices that are strikingly similar" to the Florida-based startup's designs.

The lawsuit marks the latest accusation from an American firm of intellectual property theft by Chinese companies, a perennial sore point that's helped escalate tensions between the world's two largest economies. With more than $2 billion in financing, Magic Leap is one of the better-funded startups delving into so-called augmented or mixed reality, a technology that gives users the illusion that fantastical, three-dimensional digital objects exist in the physical world.

Many have accused Magic Leap of being vaporware. But now its precious vapors have been collected by people who could actually make something out of it.

Also at The Verge.

Previously: Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware
Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?

Original Submission

Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware? 4 comments

Magic Leap has announced an augmented reality/mixed reality display. The price is unknown, but Magic Leap says it will ship in 2018:

After more than three years, Magic Leap has unveiled what it describes as a "creator edition" of its augmented reality system. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized cyberpunk-y goggles, a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack, and a handheld controller. It's supposed to accept "multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking," and maps persistent objects onto the environment — "place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it," the site promises. An SDK is supposedly coming in early 2018, and the hardware is supposed to ship at some point next year.

Magic Leap invited Rolling Stone to try out some demos, which include virtual characters that can react to eye contact, a floating virtual comic book, and a virtual live performance using volumetric camera capture. The piece seems to refute rumors that Magic Leap was having difficulty shrinking its technology to goggle size while keeping performance up, saying that "there was no stuttering or slowdowns, even when I walked around the performance, up close and far away."

The "puck-sized" tethered computer is an interesting compromise. It doesn't look like it would hinder mobility that much (you could compare it to a Walkman plus headphones), and it's much smaller than "VR backpack" concepts. However, it could be a good sign that you should not be an early adopter of Magic Leap One (which is actually the ninth generation of their hardware internally, according to Rolling Stone).

Some still call it vaporware. There is no video footage of the device being worn, and images have been retouched to "edit out some sensitive IP".

Will it take privacy seriously?

Again, not to be confused with Leap Motion.

Also at BBC, Tom's Hardware, Road to VR, Engadget, BGR, 9to5Google.

Previously: Developers Race to Develop VR Headsets that Won't Make Users Nauseous
Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware

Original Submission

Magic Leap's $2.6 Billion Bait and Switch 15 comments

Magic Leap's $2.6 billion bait and switch – TechCrunch:

Two years ago I attended an "Innovation in Immersive Storytelling" event at Industrial Light & Magic, featuring the Chief Game Wizard of Magic Leap. I should have known then, from all the strained corporate sorcery in that sentence, that their demise was inevitable. But in fact I went into that talk a Magic Leap skeptic, and came out ... less so.

Magic Leap drew in a lot of true believers over the years; $2.6 billion worth. Investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Google (not Google Ventures — Google itself) and many many more. Sundar Pichai joined Magic Leap's board. And did they rave. I mean, it's a VC's job to rave about their portfolio companies, but this was different:

Now there is something new. Not just an order-of-magnitude more pixels or a faster frame rate, but – thanks to sensors and optics and mobile phone volumes and breakthroughs in computer vision – something I always dreamed of ... The product is amazing ... this is different

Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins.

It was incredibly natural and almost jarring — you're in the room, and there's a dragon flying around, it's jaw-dropping and I couldn't get the smile off of my face

Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull

Legendary and a16z had previously invested in Oculus Rift. Tull even told TechCrunch "Magic Leap takes a completely different approach." This is especially interesting because when Magic Leap finally — finally, after 5 years and $1.6 billion — released a product, Oculus's Palmer Luckey wrote a truly scathing teardown of the Magic Leap One. Again, yes he would do so ... but the details are quite striking ...

They call it the "Lightwear". This is the part that has gotten the most hype over the years, with endless talk of "Photonic Lightfield Chips", "Fiber Scanning Laser Displays", "projecting a digital light field into the user's eye", and the holy-grail promise of solving vergence-accommodation conflict, an issue that has plagued HMDs for decades ... TL;DR: The supposed "Photonic Lightfield Chips" are just waveguides paired with reflective sequential-color LCOS displays and LED illumination, the same technology everyone else has been using for years, including Microsoft in their last-gen HoloLens. The ML1 is a not a "lightfield projector" or display by any broadly accepted definition

What happened to that "completely different approach?"

See also:


Original Submission

Magic Leap Gets $500 Million in Funding... Again 5 comments

Seven years after raising $542M at a $2B valuation, Magic Leap raises $500M at a $2B valuation

Magic Leap has had one hell of a journey, and to their credit, it seems investors are still addicted to giving them money.

The augmented reality startup announced today that they have raised $500 million at a $2 billion valuation from existing investors. The round echoes the terms of an October 2014 raise where Magic Leap raised $542 million at a reported $2 billion valuation. Quite a bit has happened in the meantime.

Curiously, Magic Leap decided not to actually disclose any of the specific investors participating in this latest fundraise. At this point, the company has raised $3.5 billion in total funding according to Crunchbase, meaning that most of the investors they've brought in haven't fared too well thus far.

Magic Leap 2 Teased For 2022 With Taller Field Of View

A blog post by Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson features an image, pictured below, comparing the field of view of the first and second generation AR headsets. While Magic Leap 2 seems to have small gains in horizontal field of view, vertically the augmentation of your vision should be far more significant with the new device. The company is said to have raised another $500 million to roll-out the second generation product focused toward business markets in 2022. "Select customers" are "already leveraging its capabilities through an early access program," according to the company.

Also at The Verge.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:04AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:04AM (#440223)

    Titty Slapper Edition

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @10:40AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @10:40AM (#440299)

      Is that the version that came with the motorboat command?

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:08AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:08AM (#440224)

    - with the word Magic in its name

    - where the founders dress head to toe in black (I know Steve Jobs did, but he did it first)

    - where nobody can talk to anyone at the company w/o signing an NDA

    • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @05:16AM (#440225)

      Industrial Light & Magic.

      Speaking of Apple.

      I once signed an NDA to see a preview of Mac OS 8. The big secret was, if it crashes, it runs Disk First Aid automatically. Wow!

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @06:49AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @06:49AM (#440242)

        And then afterwards you had a mantrain at the gay bathhouse next to Apple headquarters?

      • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Monday December 12 2016, @12:42PM

        by theluggage (1797) on Monday December 12 2016, @12:42PM (#440334)

        The big secret was, if it crashes, it runs Disk First Aid automatically.

        Run, don't walk to the patent office. Surely there's no prior.... FSCK YOU, UNIX!!!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @07:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12 2016, @07:19AM (#440247)

      why do you think it's a good idea to invest in apple?
      by the way, I'm not talking about money when I use the word "good".

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by LoRdTAW on Monday December 12 2016, @02:23PM

    by LoRdTAW (3755) on Monday December 12 2016, @02:23PM (#440363) Journal

    The company is working on an augmented reality product that may prove to be inferior to competing designs such as Microsoft's HoloLens

    Okay, Iv'e used the Hololens and posted about it before. It's pretty disappointing in terms of comfort; heavy, sags on your head and the adjustment never seems to get it where you want it. The view port is small and barely gives you any sense of depth unlike a VR headset such as the Occulus or Vive. You have to stand back a few meters to see anything life-sized and you can't lean in for a closer look as the view port is a 27" window to the VR world at arms length. The only upside is has excellent space tracking.

    It would be pretty hard to suck more than the Hololens.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 12 2016, @04:26PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday December 12 2016, @04:26PM (#440418) Journal

      I've heard about the disappointing FOV of the HoloLens, but I expect them to make changes between the version you used and the finished product.

      Magic Leap can't get out any version to anybody who isn't a venture capitalist.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 1) by Delwin on Monday December 12 2016, @05:11PM

        by Delwin (4554) on Monday December 12 2016, @05:11PM (#440447)

        That is the finished product - at least the currently shipping finished product.

        I expect version 2 or 3 (or 10) will have a better field of view but on the whole the Hololens is quite disappointing.