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posted by martyb on Thursday December 12 2019, @08:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the early-adopters-pay-the-price dept.

In 2020, smart glasses may start looking totally normal

It doesn't pay to be an early adopter. Smart glasses maker North, which developed a pair of glasses called Focals earlier this year, has just announced an updated version for 2020. That means the first Focals, which displayed notifications via a retinal-projection technology that looked like a tiny pop-up window in one eye, are being discontinued, the company says.

The improved glasses promise to be 40% lighter and have 10 times the display resolution of the first version. "We spent the last year in the market learning how to build, sell and support smart glasses with our first-gen product, that we now will combine with over five years of research working on the technology upgrades in Focals 2.0," Steven Lake, North CEO, said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Magic Leap has struggled to move its Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets despite over $2.6 billion in funding:

The Information today published an in-depth report about Magic Leap's state of affairs. Most notable is how it apparently only sold 6,000 Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets in the first six months.

Priced at $2,295, buyers get a "Lightwear" headset that connects to a puck-shaped "Lightpack" computer worn around their waist. CEO Rony Abovitz reportedly had an initial goal of 1 million devices in the first year before settling with 100,000.

Instead of producing a new version in the near term, Magic Leap will try to sell the same headsets to businesses:

Magic Leap is pitching its headset to businesses with a new name. The Magic Leap One Creator Edition, which shipped last August, is being replaced with the Magic Leap 1, which sells for the same price of $2,295.

The Magic Leap 1 will replace the original Creator Edition, and Magic Leap's chief product officer Omar Khan says it has "some minor updates." But it appears visually indistinguishable from the old device, and there's apparently no significant change in the industrial design or the optics, including the field of view and overall visual quality. Magic Leap also takes pains to avoid calling it a "next-generation" headset or even a major update — the company said today that it's planning to release a Magic Leap 2 in 2021. This update seems to be mostly symbolic, indicating that the Magic Leap headset is no longer an experiment.

Also at Fast Company, Wccftech ("$2.6 Billion Flop").

Previously: Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?
Magic Leap Opens Up Orders for $2,295 "Creator Edition" Augmented Reality Headset
"North Focals" $1000 Smartglasses Reviewed
Magic Leap Accuses Chinese Company of Copying Trade Secrets
Another High-Flying, Heavily Funded AR Headset Startup is Shutting Down

Original Submission

Related Stories

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 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

"North Focals" $1000 Smartglasses Reviewed 24 comments

North Focals Review: Stealthy, Stylish Smart Glasses

Focals are currently only available after two in-person fittings (for more on North's detailed fitting process, see our first hands-on with Focals) in their Brooklyn, New York or Toronto, Canada stores. The trip is tempting as Focals cross a huge smart glasses barrier by offering functionality in a form that stands a good (but not perfect) chance of passing for regular glasses. However, while we enjoy apps like Amazon Alexa and Weather, more apps and better image quality would make the $999 / $1,200 CAD price tag (with or without prescription lenses) more forgivable.

Focals use a Qualcomm APQ8009w system-on-a-chip (SoC), which runs on four Arm Cortex A7 CPU cores at a clock speed of up to 1.09GHz. The SoC is marketed for smartwatches, with features like Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and a Qualcomm Adreno 304 GPU.

[...] The left arm of my review sample is bare black on the outside, while the inside subtly reads "Focals by NORTH" near the temple and "CLASS 1 LASER PRODUCT" near the tip. The right arm is also bare on the outside. The inside, however, holds the holographic display projector, which uses a display technology called retinal projection to project photons, or light, or raster graphics, onto the retina. When the projector is activated, it's not visible from the outside. It projects images onto the right eye only. This advanced retina display also calls for precise measurements in the aforementioned fitting process.

On the bottom of the right arm is a small square area for connecting the charger, a small speaker/microphone and the power button.

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

Another High-Flying, Heavily Funded AR Headset Startup is Shutting Down 8 comments

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow2718

While Apple and Microsoft strain to sell augmented reality as the next major computing platform, many of the startups aiming to beat them to the punch are crashing and burning. Daqri, which built enterprise-grade AR headsets, has shuttered its HQ, laid off many of its employees and is selling off assets ahead of a shutdown, former employees and sources close to the company tell TechCrunch.

In an email obtained by TechCrunch, the nearly 10-year-old company told its customers that it was pursuing an asset sale and was shutting down its cloud and smart-glasses hardware platforms by the end of September.

"I think the large majority of people who worked [at Daqri] are sad to see it closing down," a former employee told TechCrunch. "[I] wish the end result was different."

[...] Daqri faced substantial challenges from competing headset makers, including Magic Leap and Microsoft, which were backed by more expansive war chests and institutional partnerships. While the headset company struggled to compete for enterprise customers, Daqri benefited from investor excitement surrounding the broader space. That is, until the investment climate for AR startups cooled.


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: 4, Funny) by kazzie on Thursday December 12 2019, @08:56AM (2 children)

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 12 2019, @08:56AM (#931351)

    I'm waiting 'til 2021 when all the software is pirated: The Year of ARrrrrr....

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Bot on Thursday December 12 2019, @09:16AM (1 child)

    by Bot (3902) on Thursday December 12 2019, @09:16AM (#931354) Journal

    and I haven't seen a single youtube or fb ad about the product? no placement in blogs (well apart this one :D)

    How are they supposed to sell the stuff?

    Have they considered the styling of the frame? have they considered graduated lenses? Have they considered nobody wants to be retina irradiated with ads? OK this doesn't matter, people put up with all kinds of sh!t. Been booting a windows 7 backup after 10 years (promptly self upgraded to 10), it is even more opaque and slow than systemd ubuntu, a result which I think takes some true engineering effort to achieve. BUT they somehow must be convinced that such a sh!t is what you gotta have, and good luck with that.

    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday December 12 2019, @04:10PM

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday December 12 2019, @04:10PM (#931438) Journal

      The second link from the previously section, might tell you why their consumer products didn't take off. "$2,295 "Creator Edition"" isn't going to be winning any hearts or minds.

      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12 2019, @12:42PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12 2019, @12:42PM (#931369)

    >> "Smart glasses maker North, which earlier this year, has just announced an updated version for 2020."


  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13 2019, @03:09AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13 2019, @03:09AM (#931615)

    AR excites me, but it's not gonna happen next year. Get back to me when they have unobtrusive mobile AR useful for more than twitter and insta.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday December 13 2019, @11:10AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday December 13 2019, @11:10AM (#931675) Journal

      Having a FOV that doesn't cover everything is garbage (especially the way Google Glass stuck AR in the corner, reportedly causing eye strain). We're also going to see massive increases in performance/Watt and transistor density by 2030 (new nodes, monolithic 3D, etc).

      The more computing power and storage can be crammed into the form factor, the less you need to rely on the spy cloud.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []