– Magic Leap is supposedly
building goggles that can change people’s
perception of reality. In the last few years, it’s become one of the most mysterious and exciting companies in tech. It’s released tantalizing
videos of mixed reality animals and steam punk robot battles, not to mention a string
of patents full of weird and fascinating ideas, and investors like Google have
given it over $2.3 billion. I’ve been covering Magic Leap
for what feels like forever, and it’s gotten me kind of obsessed about looking behind the curtain. I mean, CEO Rony Abovitz
makes it sound less like a product and more like
a transcendent experience. – There is this amazing display we have in our brain already. It’s processed by our
visual cortex and I thought, we would never build a
better display than that, so how could we get into that? – You can fairly say
they’re shrouded in mystery, but finally, this summer, Magic Leap’s big promises
are getting put to the test. They’re releasing their
very first headset, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition, and early look at what Magic
Leap calls spatial computing. And last month, they invited
us to their headquarters in Plantation, Florida to look at the Magic Leap One firsthand. (engaging music) Now, I am way more hyped than the average person about Magic Leap and I tried to keep those
expectations in perspective, but I know people who’s
seen a lot of VR and AR, and they love this headset. So I was really hoping I
would feel the same way. This is the Magic Leap
One Creator Edition. Okay, so the Magic Leap One
does look and feel great. The main part’s a
headset called Lightwear. It connects to a miniature
computer called the Lightpack, which you clip on your pocket. You can use it with this controller or with some limited hand motions. The headset’s studded with
cameras that track the room and the lenses of something Magic Leap calls a photonics chip. Practically, this creates the illusion of 3D images projected
into the real world, which you can walk
around and interact with. Now, while the headset
isn’t exactly subtle, it’s surprisingly comfortable. You put it on by stretching the sides to fit around your head and it comes in two sizes
with a set of swappable nose and forehead rests for
some finer adjustments. I spent around an hour
wearing the Magic Leap One, and I almost never had to
refit it or hold it in place. And the Lightpack is light. I clipped it into my pocket
and basically forgot about it, although I could feel some heat on my leg. But the real magic is supposed
to be in the experience, and it’s definitely advanced by current mixed reality standards. But it’s not exactly a world
of realistic holograms. (engaging music) The Magic Leap One’s field-of-view
is noticeably limited. It has a 50 degree field-of-view compared to around 110 degrees for
your average VR headset. So if you’re standing in a
room full of virtual objects, you can only see them in one
patch of the room at a time, the rest just looks a
little dimmer than usual, thanks to the Lightwear’s dark lenses. You could see this tree up close, or this grass, but to see both, you’d have to stand back until the whole scene fit into
Magic Leap’s equivalent of a virtual screen. When you’re just trying
to enjoy the experience, this all gets pretty distracting. I checked out several
different Magic Leap demos, including an art program, apps from Wayfair and the New York Times, and a real version of that
steam punk robot fighting game. Magic Leap released some
footage of these apps, including its painting app and an underwater musical landscape. They definitely reflect
parts of my experience, but they don’t show you the field-of-view, you can only see a few seconds at a time, and you’re only seeing the
absolute peak performance. My overall experience was more like this 2016 video where
sometimes the objects look solid, which was great, but sometimes they’d also look kinda more transparent or that text would be blurry or there’d be glowing edges around things. If you look down where
it says 15,000 feet, there is just a little bit of jitter. I definitely saw that, sometimes worse. One object kinda looked
like it was vibrating. Everything definitely
looked three-dimensional and sometimes it looked really cool, but it definitely didn’t look real. Don’t get me wrong. Using the Magic Leap One is way
more impressive than looking through a phone, but it feels a lot like using Microsoft’s
existing mixed reality headset, the HoloLens, which shipped
way back in March of 2016. The Magic Leap One’s
definitely more comfortable, and the field-of-view feels less limited, but the experience just didn’t
feel radically different from things that I had already tried. Parts of Magic Leap’s demos also seemed weirdly unpolished and noninteractive. That would not be strange for a new device, except that
Magic Leap has 1500 employees, specifically working on a
mass-market entertainment system. And although their hardware
is really advanced, the apps are a lot like things you’d find on other platforms. I’d show you what I mean except that they also barely released any footage of anybody using them, which
is not reassuring either. I wanted to love the Magic Leap One. The company has good ideas about how normal people could
use mixed reality glasses, and they’ve come a very
long way in a few years. They had a fridge-sized box in 2013, and they worked their way down to a pair of cyberpunk ski goggles in four years. I don’t want to condemn it just because it can’t meet the
absolutely impossible hype that’s created, that wouldn’t be fair. And I like the idea of a little company that’s not based on ads
and data harvesting, even if they’ve got big investors, winning the race for re-writing reality. But Magic Leap just doesn’t have the kind of breakthroughs
we’ve all been waiting for, or if it does, they’re
still hidden somewhere in Plantation, Florida. The Magic Leap One Creator
Edition is only shipping to buyers in the US right now. It costs $2295, and even though
I was sort of disappointed, I really do hope it turns out well.