Magic Leap One – Review and Looking Forward

Industry pundits have long hyped up the future of Augmented Reality, focusing on why the social nature of the technology will give it a leg up against its counterpart, Virtual Reality. The Microsoft Hololens has shown us what is possible, gaining traction in enterprise utilities ranging from design to workplace augmentation,  but the next generation of AR glasses will begin to really set the stage for a systematic shift in human computer interaction.

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The Magic Leap One is the culmination of years of speculation, based solely on rumors and huge investments from the likes of Google, Alibaba and more. The device is dubbed as the “Creator’s Edition” and will aim to give developers something to test out their creations on. Microsoft already has a huge following of developers that are pushing AR forward on the Hololens and Magic Leap realizes they need to do the same to populate the world of AR that users will inhabit.

As far as aesthetics go, the Magic Leap One isn’t the socially acceptable pair of glasses that will come to dominate this market, but it is a step up from previous devices. There are three pieces of hardware that go into the fixture. The headset, utilizing “Digital Lightfield” display technology, a circular pack containing the computing power for said headset – shown to be worn on a users belt, as well as a handheld controller to help with spatial tracking.

The difference between the Magic Leap One and the Hololens can be attributed to the lightfield technology as well as the haptic feadback controller that goes along with it. The result is a more lifelike holographic objects that seamlessly blends into the physical world, with the ability to block real world objects as they move behind them. The haptic feedback controller will enable new forms of interaction and creativity that were not yet possible through the Hololens.

Full scale Augmented Reality, as delivered through these goggles, will disrupt a number of interactions we take for granted today. In the enterprise space, this will allow for computers and monitors to be replaced with virtual screens. Due to Magic Leap’s room-mapping technology, digital objects, like those screens, stay where you put them. If you place four virtual computer screens above your desk, when you return later, they’ll still be there.

Our interactions with these screens will change as well. No longer will our input methods simply be point and click. Sure, those will still exist, in a virtual representation, but we’re likely to see end users interact through voice, gestures, head position and eye tracking. These new input methods will allow for a more robust digital experience, eventually providing a more natural and intuitive way to interact with technology.

The smart glasses will have the ability to ingest more data about your surroundings and interactions than ever before. Cameras and microphones will capture everything you see and hear, as well as all your inputs. While many are rightly skeptical of sharing this amount of data, when used correctly, the result will be a drastically simplified UX and predictive assistance around our daily needs.

In the enterprise space, data visualization and manipulation will move beyond 2D interfaces, allowing data scientists, creatives and more to gain greater insights and a more visual understanding. With the help of an ever present AI assistant, these interactions will only grow stronger and more useful to the end user. Web developers will be able to optimize their experiences for content extraction and spatial browsing, which will enable entirely new ways to shop and explore with 3D objects.

Imagine browsing Amazon, and coming upon a new desk lamp you’d like to buy. However, you’re not entirely sure how it’s going to look on your actual desk. Well, simply grab it out of the virtual screen and place it there. You now have a digital representation of the exact lamp you can then purchase.

There will also be exciting new avenues to explore with regards to gaming and entertainment. The world of games that we know and love will soon mesh, seamlessly, with our physical world, and offer exciting new possibilities. Old school gamers will love the possibility of running through your living room, as it’s digitally optimized to resemble the first level of Super Mario Bros. The freedom that developers will have when creating these gameplay and entertainment scenarios is unlike anything that has come before it.

Implications

While it’s fun and exciting to think of the long term possibilities for Augmented Reality, the reality is that the full capabilities of such devices will not entirely be realized until we get socially acceptable glasses. The need for a separate belt-clipped computer and a remote will drastically reduce the mass acceptance of these devices, but it is a great start and that day will get here sooner rather than later.

For marketers today, it will be important to begin at least looking at the possibility of getting your brands digital presence ready for a world of augmented reality. Begin planning and testing for what type of 3D interactions will translate well from a 2D space. Product mapping, handling, and search are all great areas to start, and can be tested on the AR capabilities of our current smartphones.

Additionally, brands that want to be seen as an innovator can take chances to create experiences that are entirely new. It’s so early in the days of AR, that there is no right or wrong move. Consumers, especially those with access to these devices, will come to see your brand as forward thinking and ready for the future.

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