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Magic Leap One Teardown (ifixit.com)
310 points by jrnkntl 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments



Ifixit is such a treasure trove these days. Their guides are so well-made, accessible to all audiences, and they don't seem to have any biases towards any one platform/technical agenda. I really hope they're able to stay independent and not get bought out by Microsoft or Facebook.


I've used them a number of times to take apart various devices I've come across for repairing/replacing things. I would love to meet the ultra-super patient folks who create these guides.


Plus they have these great high-quality images. There used to be a bunch of these guides with information of similar detail, but often they have with the most horrible pictures…


One big takeaway is the confirmation that ML-1 is using focus plane sequential LCOS SLM with waveguide optics. Perennial Magic Leap critic KGonTech correctly called this in 2016[0] based on Magic Leap patents.

[0] - https://www.kguttag.com/2016/11/20/magic-leap-separating-mag...


Just as an FYI, Karl posted an update referencing the iFixit teardown today: https://www.kguttag.com/2018/08/23/ifixits-magic-leap-one-te...

For more technical information about the Magic Leap rendering stack and their dual-focal plane approach, here's the deck from a SIGGRAPH talk: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1h36TJRkK4KteRUVcoXAnbHzTFfu...


In this article, Karl mentions he's busy working on RAVN. Anyone knows what he is referring to?




Yet again something M-I complex adopts a norse term...


How come I've never heard of Ravn?! It looks like this is a company we should hear more often in the news (maybe because it's a defense contractor?)


Not all companies benefit from mainstream news coverage. Animal cloning companies are a good example, they don't make too much noise because they get a lot of push back from animal rights groups, but their businesses continue to grow rapidly in the farming industry.

The only thing Ravn needs to care about is awareness within the defence industry.


Damn, that’s someone who really knows where their towel is. He nailed it two years ahead of time, through a morass of hype, based on patents alone and got it all right. Looking over more of his site he correctly predicted why the view of the real world would be so dark, that they’d be limited to only 2 focus planes, and pretty much everything else.

Wow.


He's nearly a 40 year veteran of things in the relevant space...


He did the predictions from a patent. Why are people impressed? Or there is more to the story that the article cares to mention?


It won't be surprising at all if Karl gets approached by ML for a job opportunity


Or a lawsuit for some reason.


Do the dual focal planes actually work well? What happens when something is moving on the boundary? Does it pop back and forth between them?


No matter what you think of Magic Leap generally, they did some amazing engineering here and I think that's worth appreciating. The stacked waveguide model is a great hack around the varifocal plane (accommodation) problem, but to make it work in a form factor that isn't gargatuan was a feat. Yes, it's only two planes, but it's a step forward.

Not to mention that it runs on batteries and is a fully integrated development environment - you gotta hand it to them that this was an engineering feat.


Thanks you. I think this thread is too ready to be dismissive. It's pretty impressive even if it's not the absolute best, best, best! We're taking a little too much joy in trying to disprove the hype.


I needed to hear this as I'm on the hate bandwagon too. Its unfortunate that they promised so much. Its like they told everyone they were going to create world peace, but only solved one military conflict.


Practically speaking, what does only two planes mean? Does this mean they can only overlay elements at two different apparent distances in the environment? Are these distances fixed or variable?


They can still use two eye parallax to make items appear to be at different depths the limitation is that your eye wants to focus differently on far and near objects. In VR with a simple screen your eye has to focus on a constant distance while you look at objects that should be deeper based on their parallax. It's not a huge deal but can make things blurry or increase eye strain. ML1 has two focus planes near and infinity that it will switch between depending on what object you're focusing on. You can actually see the switch between the two planes depending on what object you're looking at in the scene.

In theory this will help a bit with eyestrain and make things look a bit better but with only 2 planes it's a bit limited.


The headset can overlay elements at any distance, but when it does there may be a mismatch between the point your eyes look at and the distance they focus at. This can cause the images you see to appear blurry and out of focus. This is called vergence-accommodation conflict, and it's a common issue in VR and AR.

Magic Leap attempts to address this by having two fixed planes where it can focus the projected images. This does help, but according to reviewers it seems like two fixed planes still isn't enough to eliminate the problem entirely. Future headsets may be able to address this by using more planes, or by allowing the plane(s) to dynamically change focus (varifocal displays).


> The headset can overlay elements at any distance, but when it does there may be a mismatch between the point your eyes look at and the distance they focus at.

So basically it can only correctly overlay elements at two distances, then? Any other distances are going to be out of focus to varying degrees, which will start looking increasingly incorrect the farther they are from the correct focal distance?

Does the hyperfocal distance come into play here? Is there some range around each focal length that is acceptable, or do the eyes work differently from camera lenses here?


I'm not an expert on the on the inner workings of the human eye, but yes I believe the severity of the "blur" effect depends on the difference between the distance of the focal plane the object is rendered on and the actual distance your eyes are focusing on. As long as it's "close enough" you won't notice. (Though I have no idea how close "close enough" is for the average human.)


Iirc, the Google Glass system used a (weak) laser to "write" directly onto the retina. Wouldn't such approach be superior?


Does this mean they can only overlay elements at two different apparent distances in the environment?

It means the focus distance of objects is idealized at two separate focal points. The objects themselves will lie around or at the idealized focus distance with cutoff points between the two distances. I'm not sure how ML determined the cut off points, but it's probably median defocus point between the two planes.

Are these distances fixed or variable?

Fixed. The only way to very focus infinitely is with a completely different structure, namely a fiber scanning display. See our patent here for an example:

http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?docid=20180131926&SectionNum=1&...


They can only project elements at two depths. I believe they are fixed since the simulated depth would be a function of the diffraction grating built into each layer.


If they hadn't been putting out unrealistic hype for years people might give them a bit more slack for a seemingly competently engineered product. They presented themselves as having some revolutionary proprietary technology. In reality almost everything here is off the shelf components being assembled by some unnamed third party manufacturer. The only unique part they make themselves is the "photonic chips" which aren't actually that revolutionary, other people had more or less the same idea and decided the benefits didn't outweigh the problems.


My takeaway: Magic Leap is definitely not vaporware. It is a solid first product.

I agree with Ajedi32 comment that Overall it's evolutionary, not revolutionary, which is great per se.

The hype was unacheivable, as their marketing videos are (were?) misleading to say the least. Which I think is a strategic mistake that can hurt its adoption.

If they have a chance to return all of their investment, it depends of what they will be delivering in two or three years. If it continue its evolution agressively or this product is all they have.


If the choice comes to "be an optimist, over-hype, get funding, and survive until engineering investments pay off" or "be realist, get less funding, deliver even more mediocre product (because less funding = less engineering talent), and die" which one would you chose?

In the end what matters is runway and culture. With enough runway and solid engineering management they have a pretty high chance to eventually release revolutionary product.


Has the former option ever worked?


Yes, former option includes every company that bootstrapped, for example whatsapp.


> be an optimist, over-hype, get funding, and survive until engineering investments pay off

> whatsapp

What did whatsapp over-hype?


I meant latter option^^


The device promoted by their marketing videos still does not exist.


Unless you have some inside knowledge, that should probably read "The device promoted by their marketing videos still has not been released".

They may very well have a version that's like that that just can't yet be miniaturized within the constraints of a consumer device.


I am kind of glad that they actually have a real product. IT still feels like they took in way too much investment but at least they are not a complete fraud like I started to suspect.


Yeah, it may have taken a billion dollars but a billion dollars doesn't guarantee success. The product is impressive, even if Hololens stole their thunder two years ago. The engineers should be proud.

I don't see a market for it though, so it's hard for me to see how the company can survive until the technology matures enough for the mainstream. I think it will be more than 5 years, possibly 10. Timing is so important for a startup and Magic Leap is too early.


I suspect if the finances get tight they can make back their money on their patent portfolio alone. If this tech is the future of AR then Magic Leap will have the rest of the manufacturers up against the wall when they want to build their own versions.


It sounds like they have spammed the patent office with every speculative claim they can possibly think of. It may take a few years, but as you suggest, everyone else may end up paying them rent because it won't be possible to get anything done otherwise.

Engineers who participate in this sort of activity need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves if the paycheck is worth it.


If the paycheck is worth slightly inconveniencing other corporations in the same field? It's an augmented reality headset, not exactly a cure for cancer.


At the end of the day, we the consumers are the ones who pay for these shenanigans.


A large consumer market seems unlikely at this stage, however I'll bet they could find some lucrative industrial and military niches. Those customers will be more tolerant of limitations as long as they see operational benefits.


Those niches don't justify their valuation or their marketing. They will not survive without large layoffs and more VC funding, probably a down round.


Proud of what, though? It's basically a 2-piece hololens that doesn't have any software. This stuff won't take off until field of view is fully immersive. In Magic Leap (and hololens) it's not.


If it was $100 it would revolutionize the world. At $1000 we should dust off our Magic Leap obituaries.


I think even if Magic Leap was $100 it would not revolutionize the world. I'm bullish on the potential of AR, I just think the form factor has years of hard technical work ahead to "revolutionary".


I don't like the design. It's really ugly. But in principle, this technology could be discreetly put behind the rim of stylish glasses like you'd expect to find at a department store. The technology hasn't been miniaturized to that degree yet, and you'd still have to drive it with something but for non-AR applications it needn't be complex.

At $100 people would be willing to use this for various new applications. Education comes to mind as a particularly good application. Maybe sports commentary? Maybe pop-up AR booths in malls. That would be enough to jump-start an ecosystem, while the hard technical work is done.


We already have phones in our pockets. Allow me to stick a cable from my HMD into my phone and I’ll be perfectly content to carry the extra weight around. It just has to look decent at the ‘head-mounted’ part.



I'm an AR believer once you get like some nice 1st person Google Maps navigation etc in a small package. Until then it'll be clunky.


while the qty will be low for some time to come, intel spent many many millions trying to prove there was even a market for a $1,000 computer and that it would provide performance acceptable to users...

we dont scoff at $1,000 phones hardly at all these days.

this is the first step, we should be thinking about where tech will be in 20 years at all times.


You are forgetting the utility. A $2500 computer in 1992 without internet, GUI etc would be as hard sell as ML-1. As utility of the product increases, the $2500 price tag starts making sense. The biggest issue with AR is that we haven't found the killer application yet. It's not the form factor or field of view (we have had large computers with pathetic displays), it's the utility to a common consumer beyond few minutes of amusement.


Wouldn't gaming and e-sports be a decent application of AR?


No, those usually go VR. VR headsets are currently much cheaper than these offerings, and even then, we're talking 400,000 units shipped.

Hololens is focusing on industry - live monitoring, architecture planning, 3d modelling and visualization. I don't know how successful they are.


Can anyone out there tell me if the Magic Leap One is as revolutionary compared to similar products as they want me to think it is?

I'm not that familiar with the AR/VR/HUD space and I'm having a hard time cutting through the marketing.


My current impression is that it's a decent, incremental step up from the Hololens. It's cheaper, more comfortable to wear, has a wider FOV, and supports displaying images at two different focal planes (which helps with realism when viewing objects at different distances).

Overall it's evolutionary, not revolutionary.


I saw a review and it said that the ML-1 is still far away from "good".

Better than the Hololens, yes, but still too blurry most of the time.


Having built several HoloLens apps for clients, it can be super compelling with the right application design. It takes a lot of work, but it's possible to make an excellent experience. Not all types of experiences can be made excellent. But with that in mind, the incremental improvements over the HoloLens that Magic Leap represents should widen that box of "types of great experiences".

That, and the documentation is a lot better. HoloLens wasn't all that bad, but Magic Leap has really put a ton of effort into their tooling and docs.


Good to know :)

How did you get in HoloLens development?


When I was freelance, I made a small name for myself by creating the very first WebVR framework, before WebVR was even a thing, and then I told someone I could do HoloLens, having never even touched Unity before, but having tons of C# experience. I started doing more opaque VR Unity work after that at a startup. When that startup inevitably tanked, I got a job at a large consulting firm based on my reputation in the local VR community and a referral from a coworker. I was the only one who had any HoloLens experience going in to a project at the new job, and it just continued from there, reinforcing itself.


Always good to position yourself in a growing niche. It could amplify your career trajectory if it takes off and you have solid early experience and portfolio of work over the rest.


What a rollercoaster :D


Was this the same company that used fluff concepts like light-fields and claimed conventional measures can not be used to characterize the display, and that it is impossible to have a good camera sync and film the display?

The display may be 1080p but I would love to see a measurement of the modulation transfer function of the display system... i.e. display vertically alternating bars, and horizontally alternating bars... then take a picture with a good camera


Comfort to wear is still unknown frankly, and while it has marginally improved FOV and 2 focal planes it also has a much worse view of the real world because of the 6 layers of waveguides. It feels like an expensive dead end, especially when you take the corddd “Lightpack” into account.


What's the issue with the belt mounted computer? That seems like it will be a pretty common thing for decades. We're nowhere close to a comfortable head mounted computer that can render 4k 3d scenes for an hour or more.


The wired to your goggles belt mounted computer strikes me as a hazard and source of potential discomfort, and is noticeably absent from its nearest competitor. Those cables aren’t break-away, so with your view of the real world dimmed by 80%+ and your FOV narrowed life could get pretty interesting.


OK, I have to go Google its nearest competitor now, to try to understand your point of comparison...

Edit: I think you're talking about Hololens, which does put all of the batteries on your head. Yes, I think you've correctly identified another company taking a different approach. And you've correctly identified the usability trafeoff associated with the belt-mounted battery. I maintain that the tradeoffs are such that we will see many companies using non-head-mounted batteries in order to support longer use sessions.

Hololens is notably not good enough, graphically. Neither is Magic Leap. I don't contest that you can do a not-good-enough head mounted computer


Wired to a belt mounted computer doesn't sound dangerous. Wired to a fixed computer sitting near by, that sounds dangerous.


dont worry. wireless headsets are a lot closer than you think.


Why would it be unknown?


So was the iPhone when it came out. It was an evolution over the available phones at the time. BlackBerry Razor if i recall correctly was the hottest phone at the time. Actually the dominance of the iPhone was all but certain at the time. I remember a female friend sticking to Blackberry because it was easier for her to type on a physical keyboard than a touch-screen with her long nails.

Good job to Magic Leap team for getting us closer to the last stroke in MR that will trickle down a plethora of innovations


When the iPhone came out, it felt like someone had handed you a little bit of Star Trek. It was nothing like using any other phone at the time - the entire way the device was designed and the way you interacted with it was a new paradigm.


I think this only true for those that didn't have pre-iPhone smart phones.

The iPhone was a massive upgrade to anyone using a flip phone still, but an evolutionary upgrade to people that had been using Palm Pilots, Blackberry's, and other devices since the late 90's.


As someone who had both a Handspring Visor and a T-Mobile Sidekick (Danger Hiptop), I just don't think this is true. I get that nearly every single thing the iPhone did had an antecedent of some kind in an older product, but putting them all together the way Apple did matters--and if there was another product of that era or any previous one that provided the same level of UX responsiveness the first iPhone did, I sure never saw it, and I traveled in some pretty nerdy circles.

We can debate about whether that's "evolutionary" vs. "revolutionary," but if it was evolutionary, it's the kind of evolutionary success that leads to epochal shifts.

To bring this around to the actual OP, I'm dubious that Magic Leap is going to pull that same thing off, but that's because I'm dubious that AR in the form of "things you stick on your head" is ever going to be a mass-market phenomenon.


Of course its going to be a mass market phenomenon. Its going to be a mass market phenomenon for the same reason the smart phone was a phenomenon. It takes the internet which in the smartphone's case was something you had to go seek out at a desktop or computer and put it in your pocket. It took a dopamine hit and put it in your pocket.

AR is the same thing, it takes the dopamine hit and puts it on your face. Subsequently you get a lot more dopamine hits.


Hmm. I like your argument, but the more I think about it, the more I disagree with it. :)

I think you're correct that the smartphone was a phenomenon because it put the internet in your pocket, but we already knew the use case for the internet. People use their smartphones to do everything computers do, and sometimes more: browse the web, read books, find restaurants, make reservations, get directions, use social media platforms, pay for purchases with NFC, listen to music and podcasts, manage their calendars, control their home entertainment systems, check the weather, (...deep breath)

Anyway: "Great dopamine hits, man" falls, I think, into the "necessary but not sufficient" bucket. AR needs to do that, but it needs to do more, too. I agree with "the smartphone was a phenomenon because it put the internet in your pocket," but I think we're still looking for the correct X and Y values of "AR will be a phenomenon because it puts [X] in your [Y]."


I think the gaming potential is huge, it would take games like Pokemon GO and turn them into something like Pokemon Stadium, or can you imagine playing Wizards Chess? Obviously gaming isn't something that makes something must have, its just the area I've thought the most about. I guess I have a hard time imagining that a tool as robust as AR(especially if you add leap motion) would fail to find a set of "killer apps" that make it a market phenomenon.


People often say "of course this is going to be a mass-market phenomenon". And sometimes they're right. But sometimes, it just doesn't happen. 3D TV is the obvious one, and right now I'd be guessing that VR is next on the line. Who knows what happens with AR at this point.


i think both of you guys are correct.

for me, being in tech my whole life and growing up solidly a nerd and in the cyberpunk culture of the 80s, when the iphone hit, it was more of a sigh of relief of "ok finally we are making the steps into the cyberpunk future weve been fantasizing and thus building for decades"

it wasnt until the snowden stuff hit and all the current tech problems we have that the sentiment is "oh crap, the dystopian cyberpunk future is a heck of a lot more of a slippry slope than we were ready to deal with as a society"


People picked up SnapChat though, then used it to send really intimate content. Like I see your point, but I don't think consumers are that smart when they're getting dopamine hits.


I was a big smart phone user-palms, blackberries, blackjack and blackjack2.

The iPhone was completely different. The design looked different mechanically and had a totally different ui paradigm with the touch screen.

It was revolutionary as evidenced by media coverage at the time, growth in mobile web, and massive market share still today.


Absolutely, 100% not the case. I was in grad school, working on smartphones so had access and used a lot of them. iPhone was MILES and MILES better. Obviously so.

(Well, at least in my recollection.. :)


I think first impression is important but not a key indicator of long term success. The first iPhone unlocked the mobile web browsing use case, which is huge. People had always wanted to browse the web, just not on mobile. That alone makes the first iPhone a revolutionary product. Magic Leap One has to create new user behavior, which is much much harder.


"When the iPhone came out, it felt like someone had handed you a little bit of Star Trek."

Equivalent statement:

"When the iPod came out, it felt like someone had handed you a little bit of Star Trek."

In both cases, once you started using it you had the same reaction "this is REALLY cool but has major issues, I can't' wait for the next version".

I remember my boss gleefully showing me his new iPod, and then him cursing from his office that afternoon (and many after that) as the thing crashed, and nuked his music library again, and again.


Played with an iPod when it first came out. It was really nifty. I played with an iPhone when it first came out, even the swipe to unlock screen felt like star trek. The two things were not comparable


One of the big things was simply the touch screen. No-one else was using that tech at the time and it was light-years better than the existing tech. Turned it from nice in theory to actually usable.


I don't think the iPod was in the same class, really. For the consumer, it was, mostly, a way better minidisc player. It was better enough than other MP3 players and other audio players that it took over (especially once the nano came out), but it was not, dare I say it, magical and revolutionary in the same way the iPhone was.


I believe Apple will win this race, for this reason. They aren't talking about what they're doing but they are very much preparing developers to develop AR tech on their device with swift and ARKit as well as the capabilities of the A11.

I suspect that by the time Apple starts signaling that they've got a headset and announce it at WWDCXX its going to feel like it fell straight out of the year 3000.


Apple has enough money in the bank they could buy ML...somebody will before they crash and burn completely if they do at all...

I think ML will eventually be part of FB, MS, Google, or Apple, or even Amazon within 5 years. It'll be another 5 before AR is mainstreamed.


A core component of any AR headset for everyday use is going to be that it not only has to be stylish, it has to be chic. I think Apple is the only one of the frightful five that have that kind of brand power. I have serious doubts that ML has a culture that can be molded to produce a product that has that aura around it. I can 100% see ML becoming part of Google, especially considering Google's stake in ML.


Google can make some snazzy things, and Amazon echo's pretty nice, I think Apple's not the 'only' ones who can do stylish, I personally prefer Google's phones over iphone, but I'm not an apple fanboy either. I prefer utility over style, and I enjoy android/linux over ios/macos anyday.

Google seems to have had some decent experience lately with hardware, Amazon still feels like it flounders a little in this area with failed fireos phones, and alexa/echos' and maybe firesticks are the only major things they've really come out with that stuck, I guess kindles too a bit, but not great.

Samsung I guess could also be another contender to buy them, they put out some great devices as well... I don't know who it'll be - but I think ML will be acqui-hired.


> Apple has enough money in the bank they could buy ML

With the arguable exception of MacOS X, I don't think Apple has ever just outright bought major products.


Do NeXT, Beats, Siri, and Shazaam count as major products?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitio...


Shazam shouldn’t. And OP brought up NeXT by saying macOS.


Beats they paid 3 billion for, that seems pretty big... and ML while it has a lot of investment could be purchased (if it's on a downtrend/failing cycle) for that much if they just want a talent acquisition... I mean ML has hype but it's nowhere near as big as even Tesla, definitely not as big as some of the recent 'big' buys like Disney buying Fox for 70 billion, or even FB/Whatsapp for 20 billion...

I mean, I feel ML team is definitely worth more than Whatsapp, but they don't have a product that's ready for mainstream yet... having the full backing of one of the bigger companies could bring mass AR to mainstream audiences faster.


the entire way the device was designed and the way you interacted with it was a new paradigm.

Only if you ignored all the other smartdevices on the market at the time. Palm and WindowsMobile phones had touchscreens before the iPhone came out. The only big change with the iPhone from an interaction perspective was a switch to capacitative screens, which made it easier to use with fingers but far worse to use in any sort of weather or industrial situations.


I had a windows mobile phone at the time and disagree. The ux of the iphone was so far beyond any competitor it was a different kind of product. It felt like a part of the future, instead of the bleeding edge of the present.


I had both a Windows Mobile and the first iPhone. The iPhone was definitely not "so far beyond any competitor" that it was a new kind of product. It just felt like another smartphone with a prettier UI.


One of you had stepped into Jobs's reality distortion field. The other had not.


The fact that one of those phones exist anymore speaks to how incorrect this statement is.


And also, of course, all phones now are pretty much an evolution of the iPhone. No phones now are an evolution of Windows CE. Windows CE/Mobile didn't just die itself; it left no spiritual descendants.


That is not my recollection. I bought my girlfriend the first iPhone and had no desire to own one myself.


Well, you know, other than the LG Prada... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Prada)


Did you ever use the Prada? The UI was horrible, not to mention apps sucked (phone had no easy integration for contacts and calling, no visual voicemail).

It had similar features, but not useful. iPhone was very useful.


When the iPhone came out, it was pretty much identical to the already popular iPod Touch, but with a phone included. It was a very obvious next step for Apple to take, although I'm sure Apple had planned to launch the iPod Touch as an intermediate step to a phone.

The original iPod was not all that much different from other MP3 players at the time, it simply had great design (both from a UX and aesthetic perspective). Similarly, the iPod Touch or early iPhones were technologically not much more impressive than a Blackberry. Touchscreens were nothing new at the time. But I agree with you that the way you interacted with the device was a new paradigm. Sometimes little evolutions make a big difference, especially when they make something easier to use, which is probably the most important factor for mass adoption.


In addition to getting your release timing off, as the other commenter has pointed out, the iPod Touch and iPhone are essentially the same thing, only the latter has a cellular radio and the respective features that enables. Regardless of which came out first, it's this platform that was truly innovative. So they should be considered together as the revolution.


The iPod Touch was first released in September 2007, several months after the first iPhone in June 2007.


The iPhone hardware and user interface made the leap from stylus to finger.


It may indeed be true that a revolution isn't needed to make MR commercially viable for a consumer market, but I don't think we're there quite yet.

The Magic Leap One costs $2.2k, which is cheaper than the competition but still pretty expensive for a product that hasn't yet established its usefulness to the extent PCs or smartphones have.

If Magic Leap (or a competitor) can cut the price to a third, bump the specs a bit further, and get developers on board creating compelling experiences that just might do it, but it will take a couple more evolutionary iterations before we get to that point.


There was never a "Blackberry Razor" product. There was the Motorola RAZR phone that was just a flip phone that was very popular for a few years before the iPhone, and then there were Blackberry phones of the time which had small screens and small keyboards. Some people loved them but they were a fairly niche product mostly used by professionals who valued email access at all times.

When the iPhone came out it was a true revolution and the plans for Android phones at the time were entirely redone.


No.


I'm fairly familiar with the space, and my office picked up a Magic Leap to tinker with it. It feels revolutionary if you haven't tried its predecessors; if you have then it feels like the logical next step. If you've tried the Hololens, it's a nice step up in both the control department (the controller is miles better than the crummy'stare-at-it-and-pinch-fingers' Hololens interaction) and the field-of-view department (It isn't perfect, but its a far step beyond Hololens' "tiny viewport if you look straight ahead". In general it feels more polished, and at a lower price point as well, I can't think of any reason you'd waste your time with Hololens now.

It is, however, over-=hyped. I hear the engineering team at Magic Leap hates the marketing team for hyping it like it's literal magic. The hardware team is supposedly steaming ahead, and compared to the one they are currently working on, the released version is pretty dated, but what are you gonna do when they want to finally release a product after all this hype?


Worth watching Tested's review on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrq2akzdFq8

I was expecting typical astroturfing and there is a bit of that. But they are also tempering expectations.


I jaw-dropped at something not yet mentioned here.

Taking a look at Step 9 (https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Magic+Leap+One+Teardown/1122...) where the LCOS display is revealed, I took a look at the linked PDF.

That PDF says the pixel size is 4.5um. 1000/4.5 is 222, which I think means a single row or column has approximately 222 pixels in it.

I ran the display through https://www.sven.de/dpi/ (specifying a display size of 0.4 inches), and it decided the display has 5507.27 PPI.

The PDF says that the active area is 8.64mm x 4.86mm, so that PPI rating isn't perfectly accurate - but _wow_, 1080p in less than 1cm x 0.5cm. Ha.

The LCOS module is shown 2nd from right in Step 15. https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Magic+Leap+One+Teardown/1122...

I'm not sure how to properly interpret "4.5um pixel size" within the context of a non-square module. The pixel dimensions (square? slightly rectangular?) aren't in the PDF. I'm also not sure how to compute how many 4.5um pixels there are within 1 sq mm, which I would very much like to do.


Wow, I was really distracted when I wrote the above. Specifically

> ...which I think means a single row or column has approximately 222 pixels in it.

No no. This was supposed to say that, at 4.5um, 1 millimeter of space has 222 pixels in it per row/column! (So given any 4.5um column, a 1mm width/height span will have 222 pixels in it.)



The Tested review has actual footage shot through one eye of the goggle https://youtu.be/Vrq2akzdFq8?t=958


iFixit videos have becoming better and better. I really like this teardown where they explain the technological motivation behind the placement of parts. One thing I do not get is why the control board seems so weird. It's as if different teams worked on different parts and just decided to slap things together on a board without any sort of optimization. Have anyone seen something like this before?


As someone (without a huge amount of experience) designing some hardware in the space, me too. The two usb controllers was the first thing that made me double-take. Maybe one is only capable of doing back-forth on the external line and one is dedicated to control for the camera/light hardware? My huge takeaway was, "yep, charging 2k for a bunch of last year's good phone hardware means you can stuff A LOT of it in without worrying about your BOM too much".


Tegra X2, Myriad 2, Intel MAX 10 FPGA and a lot of other vision-related chips. etc. Wow a lot of expensive chips. As a dev reference kit, the BOM and the hardware development cost can justify the $2000. Glad to see they at least made a real hardware.


Wow! Anyone else reminded of the gargoyle rig from Snow Crash?

I went from "probably vaporware" to "I should look into buying one of these" just from looking through this teardown.


I absolutely love that they went with a 90s cyberpunk look.


I'm not seeing it other than the cameras-sprouting-everywhere thing. What about this makes you think 90s cyberpunk look? The dark gray casing?


It bears more than a passing resemblance to this image: https://www.walldevil.com/wallpapers/w07/dystopia-sad-cyberp...


Neal Stephenson is involved in Magic Leap as Chief Futurist: https://www.nealstephenson.com/magic-leap.html


I found the Tested review was very fair about the limitations https://youtu.be/Vrq2akzdFq8


I became really rapt in the early days of Magic Leap PR ~14-15 ' on the basis that Neil Stephenson was joining their team in a creative capacity, and they had lots of job openings for writers and other creatives. It seemed that they may be trying to build a true virtual world with neat hardware to access it. I'm not certain that dream is dead, but the emphasis has been squarely on the hardware thus far. I'm really pleased to know that it isn't vaporware.


Be interesting to hook up a jtag to the SoC and fpgas to pull out what they do. that's going to be the secret sauce for all the super speedy stuff.


The fun question is the lifetime of lasers used in this thing. I'd bet on 10000 hours or so to 50%. Not that long at all.


10,000 hours is five full work years. That's a really long time. The device itself only costs a few thousand dollars, and it's going to be technologically obsolete long before the lasers wear out.

I can't think of anything I own in my life that lasts for 10,000 hours of use, except for housing. Hell, cars don't last nearly that long, not without major maintenance. 10,000 hours of highway driving is a million kilometers.


The lithium-ion battery in this thing will be toast long before the lasers dim, but 10,000 hours is a relatively low bar. I'm still using a 5-year-old laptop, with no component replacements (other than the battery, and an SSD I installed shortly after buying it) and it still works fine.

I know that batteries wear out in use, and expect that. Not everyone does. I did not know that laser diodes wear out that fast, and I'm glad to have the information.


Isn't this a developer kit?


Feels like that Juicero thing all over again, billions of dollars, many many years spent on a freakishly expensive, outrageously complicated hardware design that is all over the place. While out there in the real world, it was Microsoft of all companies that got the MVP done and out there, and is actively learning and improving.


Why does anyone think this is a viable first product? What plan is there to turn the discreet focus levels into a continuous variable field of focus? What plan is there to make objects appear opaque instead of clear? What do they say about increasing the fov to beyond a tiny patch? This is indeed vaporware. When conventional VR headsets mature, cameras can be mounted to them and they will achieve the exact same thing as the ML but be infinitely better.




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