Review Magic Leap One – the birth of the new, augmented reality

For my colleagues I look a bit like Vin Diesel in Riddick. Unfortunately not because of the muscles, but thanks to the spacey glasses that I wear: The headset of the new AR platform Magic Leap One. I had the opportunity to test the new system in “Creator Edition” just a few days after publication in our Plan.Net Innovation Studio in Munich.

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The new AR platform Magic Leap One in the test (Photo: Plan.Net)

The augmented image through the goggles is slightly transparent, I can still see the pattern of the carpet behind the rocket – at least, if I consciously pay attention. The colors are bright and colorful, as they should be – for a brief moment arises the desire to touch the rocket with his finger and poke it. Immersion Level 1 will be reached.

Still, everything looks very video game-wise

In the meantime it was said that the glasses could project images on six different levels in order to represent objects in different degrees of sharpness in connection with the tracking of the eye movement. Experts complained already that the hardware is now equipped with only two of these levels, which would make the perception much worse.

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I can not understand that because the overall performance of the graphics is far from my mind to capitalize on these six levels. Still, everything looks very video game-wise and the resolution is not so high that this level of detail in the perception would already play a crucial role.

The rocket is still sticking there. “Was that it?” I ask myself. I click on the rocket and “Woosh!” No idea where, she’s gone anyway. Then I put on a cowboy hat for one of my colleagues and give him a mustache from the Objects Library, which still floats in the room behind me. At least until he leaves and his hat and mustache float alone in the room. Spoilsport.


From the next category of the library I steal a few parts, with which I can assemble a kind of ball track fix. I can work on my design from all directions, conversing with my colleagues and looking them in the eye, it’s like I’m just wearing sunglasses and working on a setup that’s not particularly interested in the laws of physics but otherwise quite realistic on me.

Anyway, the whole thing quite quickly reaches a pretty routine and self-evident level. Then I grab the ball from the library and listen to it rumble through my pipe system, fall onto a trampoline, fly across the room and bounce off a real table leg in the room thanks to real-world tracking.

Bring different levels or worlds to life with gestures

I look at my colleagues, shining like a little kid and saying, “That’s awesome, is not it?”. The three colleagues look at me, their hands in their pockets, and almost simultaneously shrug their shoulders. Immersion Level 2! Only I see my marble track – I had forgotten that. In fact a minor disadvantage – sharing the experiences is not quite so easy.

More on the subject:Augmented Reality: From a nice-to-have to a must-have

The second app that I can test is about the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Together with Magic Leap they spent five years learning how to create or compose music in mixed reality music. Tónandi calls the app and is ideal for testing the control by gestures – the controller does not need this app.

The task is to move through different levels or worlds that come to life with gestures. For example, you collect stones, stroke virtual grass and nudge virtual jellyfish. If you have completed a scene more or less, creates a kind of wormhole, through which you get into the next scene. Impressive!

The variety of the gestures of your own hand movements is a huge advantage. There are eight different that the system recognizes. Developers can add and develop even more gestures. From my perspective, this is a huge advantage of the Magic Leap system.

Microsoft currently only offers two defined gestures. As someone who develops the surfaces and products of the digital world and is always driven by the desire for the best possible user experiences and relevant products, the various possibilities for implementing various gestures in this context are naturally of great interest to me.

Because I am convinced that the use of a product must be regarded as directly brand-building. Our work therefore has besides the satisfied user also the task to contribute to the desired brand image. Through details such as meaningful gesture control, offers are accepted much faster and can become much more immersive experiences much earlier.

Important step in the direction of consumer-facing AR for the living room

Even though the gestures are often still very unnatural in their application, it is still difficult to reach for a virtual stone and high latencies leave you in the dark about whether you have accessed successfully or not:

The fact that one can develop one’s own gestures ensures that much can be tried out and experimented in order to come to a user experience as quickly as possible, which makes operating the extended realities as natural as possible.

Conclusion: All in all, the first version of the Magic Leap One offers a mega-experience and is an important step in the direction of consumer-facing AR for the living room. The hardware is rock solid, some details have yet to be delivered to Magic Leap.

The overall impression suffers the most from the massive hype that has built up communication in recent years. For the Creator Edition can not really fulfill this dream yet.

It’s like with all modern platforms: the Third Party Development Community is in demand now. It will promptly disclose the actual potential of the platform and provide Magic Leap with good support in the further development of hardware and software.

And what does it cost? Anyone who wants to purchase one of the coveted devices, must invest in the US and there locally converted almost 2,000 euros. Then there is the customs at the introduction to Germany.

About the author: Mathias Becker is Director Experience Strategy at Plan.Net UX.

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