Engineering is about sacrifice: You gain something, and you lose some
So … at last Magic Leap presented to the world their prototype.
Magic Leap it’s a startup that has raised up until today: 2.3 billion USD. That’s two thousand and three hundred MILLIONS dollars, let that sink. Since its inception (around two years ago), the company has been very secretive. Anyone that wanted or was shown their concept had to sign an NDA. So, a lot of hush hush and speculation was around. They were selling to investors that their technology was revolutionary, for that reason they needed a lot of money to achieve that goal. It made sense. From our part we speculated that maybe their technology involved contact lenses. Well that’s not the case today, maybe in the future.
Anyway, due to the way the company is operating, the expectation level was quite high, so when they came out with their prototype, it’s certainly nice, however it’s not revolutionary. HoloLens holds the title of revolutionary technology. And yes, we need to compare both.
Quite possible, the original AR idea Magic Leap had in mind, was too far away to be practical: maybe it was technically possible but, in the end, the price of each device would be too costly, killing any mass adoption chance.
The current prototype is an indoor meant device, smaller and lighter than HoloLens. However, HoloLens it’s a one-piece device, whereas the Magic Leap is a two-piece hardware. As you can see, in this case the sacrifice plays out perfectly: If you want it lighter than HoloLens, then an extra (cabled) part needs to be around. Or you get a more bulky -and heavier!- device, in one peace.
Also, they’re using off the shelf components to make the device -nothing wrong with that-, however it’s difficult to revolutionize something by using mainly existing technology. In short, the hardware it’s using the NVIDIA platform and for software Linux.
In the end the Magic Leap proposal is not that different than HoloLens, with a two years delay, therefore more streamlined. IF Microsoft plays well its cards, when it renews HoloLens, it can take enough advantage to solidify HoloLens concept and future, making it harder for Magic Leap to catch up. By its side, Magic Leap was faced with the reality that it needs to ship something in order to get traction and -possibly- more investment. It’s safer and better to start sooner and iterate along the way. The iPod and iPhone became big hits by following that method.
In any case, Magic Leap glasses do have the capacity of displaying very high quality graphics, then again, to achieve it, some sort of sacrifice will need to be done on the user experience. Regardless of the scenario, the more AR available devices the better for everybody, so welcome! 🙂