Magic Leap's HoloLens competitor finally gets a hardware reveal

Magic Leap's HoloLens competitor finally gets a hardware reveal

Magic Leap, the mysterious augmented-reality startup that has raised an astounding $1.9 billion without releasing so much as a prototype, has big plans for 2018.

That means developers, designers and "creatives", which will probably need to pay through their nose for an early copy of the Magic Leap One, alongside the MR gadget's software dev kit and "all of the tools, documentation, learning resources and support you'll need to begin your journey".

The One comes in the form of a lightweight headset, along with a wearable computer and wireless controller.

The headset - which looks kind of like a bulky pair of swim goggles - will ship in 2018, though Magic Leap's site concedes that it "is continually advancing and may be different at time of shipment". It's the first time Magic Leap has put a deadline on its product.

The glasses contain six cameras, with creators suggesting the headset be used for web shopping, browsing, for entertainment, and other uses.

The company says its technology blends digital light with natural light "to produce lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world". The company is quick to point out it wants early developers to find new applications once they have access to the One and its SDK. The technology is created to interact with "multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking".

Magic Leap
Magic Leap

"We're adding another dimension to computing".

The company offered a hands-on look at the tech to Rolling Stone, demonstrating some of the features of the headset.

Clearly, the "ecosystem" is still very much a work in progress, although a RollingStone tester had great praise for the "powerful", "startling" and extremely realistic experiences available for pre-release demos. "That we could make a small wafer that could emit the digital light field signal back through the front again". Magic Leap didn't explain Soundfield Audio in depth, but we get the impression it is similar to Nvidia's VRWorks Audio and AMD's TrueAudio Next technologies, which use physics to calculate accurate audio reproduction based on your surroundings.

The Magic Leap One headset, known as "Lightwear", was debuted on Wednesday, December 20. The price has not yet been disclosed. The large investments in Magic Leap's infrastructure before the company even announced a product left the world questioning what it could possibly be brewing behind closed doors.

Major investors in Magic Leap include Google and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Similarly, Business Insider, The Verge, Engadget, CNBC and others wrote about the website, citing the alleged features.