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Magic Leap — First Impressions

immersive reality · VR · AR

Here at Olio Apps, we have taken the next step into the world of augmented/mixed reality and added a Magic Leap to our catalog. This decision was driven by our interest in the mixed reality space and the possibilities of the domain.

At first, we were surprised by how quickly our unit arrived. We were told it could take up to 90 days but we had it on our faces within a week. The unboxing experience is quite nice and they clearly have taken the time to design an aesthetically pleasing product all around.

Unboxing the Magic Leap

The experience

The first hour with the unit was primarily setup. After getting through this step, I installed the fun things! The Create App was the first application I got familiar with. The meshing process is pretty impressive. It does meshing at what I consider an acceptable speed and remembers the rooms you have previously mapped. I did notice that it has a hard time meshing dark objects, such as my black desk chair, but if you get close enough it will eventually recognize it. Once the mapping process is completed, it renders what I would call a projector screen menu. You have to pull the bottom of the menu down to reveal your options. Then, placing items and characters around the room is quite fun.

Meshing example

One oddly disappointing thing about the mapping process was having to close all the window shades. It had a hard time mapping with sunlight entering the room. It also doesn’t tell you why it’s struggling to map the room. This is possibly a feature request for their dev team.

The visual experience was unique. Once the device calibrated to my vision the renderings were crisp and stable to my movements. I did notice some slight halo effects after a while but it wasn’t intense enough to be distracting. After long periods of time, the weight of the headset actually started to hurt my nose.

Developing

To start developing, I had to register a creator account. Once you have a creator account, a new menu appears within the Lumin OS settings menu allowing you to access the device from your development computer. There was actually a hiccup with my account and I had to contact support to get the creator menu to appear and unlock the ability to install my own software.

Creator signup

Once the creator menu is unlocked, it allows you to enable mldb (Magic Leap device bridge). To use mldb, you install the Magic Leap package manager and it handles installing and updating software related to developing for your device. The installation and setup for this was a breeze. I found that the Magic Leap remote application quite easy to set up for simulating a room for development so I wouldn’t have to be linked to the device at all times. It was also enlightening to find that I could use mldb through WIFI and know that my development computer wouldn’t have to be connected at all times.

The documentation on the creator site I found to be very helpful. I could easily locate and implement whatever I was curious about at the moment (such as capturing what the user is seeing in a photo or video).

Frank wearing the lightgear

Customer Support

While the setup and usage of the Magic Leap was initially good, we did end up having an issue with ours. Mapping the room and navigating with the controller touchpad were all working well, but a few applications rely on the controller being tracked to point and grab things. After about a day of use, the headset was no longer tracking the controller. We tried everything from a factory reset to updating the OS and the controller firmware. I reached out to customer support regarding this and their responses were initially few and far between. On average it took them about two days to respond with very sparse instructions on how to debug. I did most of my debugging research on their forums following those who were experiencing similar issues. After about two weeks someone on their support staff finally offered to exchange the device and we had a new one in our office in only a couple of days.

Magic Leap controller

Conclusions

Overall, the Magic Leap is pretty amazing. To me, it represents a huge opportunity in areas of education and training and I believe the Magic Leaps size and capability will only improve over time. I am personally learning c++ to get familiar with the C API. This is really only the beginning.

Lightwear headset

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