Virtual and augmented reality company Magic Leap has taken the lid off the project that is has been working on for the last seven years. The enduringly mysterious startup Magic Leap claims it is creating a mixed reality platform unlike anything the world’s ever seen. It has raised nearly $2 billion to do it since it was founded in 2011.
The first iteration of the Magic Leap One suite, the company is calling the “creator edition.” It will include the Lightwear goggles, a “Lightpack” wearable computer, and a controller. The company claims that the device will respond to “multiple input modes” including head position, eye tracking, voice controls, and gestures from the user.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality doesn’t replace your entire field of view using screens. Rather, it places digital objects into the real world using front-facing cameras or see-through displays that don’t block out your surroundings.
With at least six cameras on the front, an array of four microphones, the Magic Leap headset funnels data to a pancake-shaped computer it calls the “Lightpack” to handle all the actual processing to make the displays work. There’s also a hand-held controller for controlling actions that can’t be achieved with simple gesture control or location tracking, both of which the Magic Leap uses for its interactive experience.
The system’s design language is simultaneously futuristic and old-fashioned. Magic Leap senior vice president of design, Gary Natsume, says that that the hardware’s design language is centered around a shade of “moon dust” grey and the repetition of perfect circles, a mix of old and new designed to stand out from other headsets. “The lens are a very iconic form,” Natsume tells Rolling Stone. “The aspiration is that eventually, this will become like glasses and people will wear them every day.”
Magic Leap was founded by Rony Abovitz in 2010. By 2014, it had raised more than $540 million of venture funding, with follow-up rounds pushing that number up to $1.9 billion by the end of 2017.
Magic Leap’s site also says that a “Creator Portal,” which will give developers access to the company’s developer kit and documentation on how to build for the headset, will launch in “early 2018.”