Magic Leap, a secretive startup, has been raising millions of dollars to create a head-mounted virtual display over the past couple of years. While Magic Leap has been hyping up the potential of its technology, we've seen very little of it in action. MIT got a chance to try the headset last year, and we've seen some demos of the holograms it produces, but Wired now has a closer look at the latest development kits that Magic Leap is testing.
Like Microsoft's HoloLens, Magic Leap is using waveguides to superimpose 3D images over real world objects. It's a form of augmented reality, or as Microsoft and Magic Leap like to call it: mixed reality. Magic Leap doesn't like describing its technology as lenses, instead opting to call it a photonic lightfield chip.
"It's like dreaming with your eyes open."
Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz describes the lightfield chip as a "three dimensional wave... component that has very small structures in it, and they manage the flow of photons that ultimately create a digital lightfield signal." Wired has photographed this mysterious chip, but Magic Leap is still refusing to detail exactly how it or the technology around it works. Magic Leap won't even say whether its technology will be used in goggles or what they'll look like. One employee describes Magic Leap as "like dreaming with your eyes open."
Wired claims the quality of Magic Leap's virtual objects "exceeds all others," and an accompanying video shows some additional demonstrations of the 3D objects virtually projected into the real world. Like previous videos, the projections look a lot like Microsoft's HoloLens, but it's not clear yet whether Magic Leap can fix the small field of view issue that is present with HoloLens.
While Microsoft is shipping early HoloLens units to developers, Magic Leap has not yet released a developer unit. The latest demos show mountains being projected onto desks, and the potential for gaming with Magic Leap, but there are still too many questions that remain unanswered about this ambitious project to truly understand when and how it will make it into the real world.