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Augmented reality startup Magic Leap reveals first look at hardware

Get a peek at the Lightwear headset and Lightpack computer

Magic Leap One
Magic Leap
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Magic Leap, a notoriously secretive tech startup that has been working on augmented reality for the past few years, finally offered a peek at its hardware today. Dubbed Lightwear, the goggle-style headset promises “amazing experiences that feel natural,” all powered by a hip-mounted, puck-shaped computer called a Lightpack.

The system works with a handheld controller that features “force control and haptic feedback ... for a fluid, sensory experience.”

The first iteration of the company’s hardware, Magic Leap One, is expected to ship sometime in 2018. Magic Leap said on its website that its software development kit and creator portal will be available early next year.

Magic Leap’s augmented reality technology promises to mix real-world vision with computer-generated digital objects, in the vein of Microsoft’s HoloLens or Google’s Glass goggles. Magic Leap’s Lightwear will project a digital lightfield over the user’s field of vision that will “blend seamlessly with natural light to produce lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world,” according to its website.

Magic Leap Lightwear
Magic Leap

“This advanced technology allows our brain to naturally process digital objects the same way we do real-world objects, making it comfortable to use for long periods of time,” the company said.

On its website, Magic Leap presents a few augmented reality scenarios designed for Lightwear, including 3D web browsing, display screens “on demand,” virtual meetings and, of course, gaming. Magic Leap showed off a concept video of a first-person shooter a few years ago in which a normal office setting was fantastically transformed into a robot shooting gallery.

Rolling Stone’s Glixel and Pitchfork got a closer look at Magic Leap’s tech — and the startup’s collaboration with Icelandic band Sigur Rós — this week. In an interview with Glixel, Magic Leap founder and CEO Rony Abovitz said the system will be powered by two powerful computers: one in the self-contained Lightpack, which he compared to “close to like a Mac Book Pro or an Alienware PC,” and another in the Lightwear goggles — “a real-time computer that's sensing the world and does computer vision processing and has machine learning capability so it can constantly be aware of the world outside of you.” The Lightwear itself features four built-in microphones, at least six external cameras and built-in speakers.

More details about Magic Leap’s first hardware are available at its website.

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