When you write about augmented reality headsets, you’re supposed to start by describing something impossible — like a pastel dinosaur stomping its feet in a quiet office space in Florida. This dinosaur is made of fist-sized blocks that look like candy, and the office belongs to Magic Leap, a mysterious startup that’s been working in near-total secrecy for seven years. I should clarify that the dinosaur also isn’t real. It exists only in the lenses of the Magic Leap One, a pair of goggles that Magic Leap hopes will replace phones, computers, and every other high-tech screen in our lives. The whimsical anecdote setup is supposed to emphasize how well the Magic Leap One tricked my mind into believing this impossible thing existed, which is what I’d hoped would happen last month when Magic Leap invited me to its headquarters. But it just didn’t happen. In reality, the dinosaur I see through the Magic Leap One looks genuinely three-dimensional, but pieces start getting cut off when I approach it. When a man walks behind it, I can see him slightly. My headset doesn’t account for relative distance, so it’s impossible for someone to walk in front of the dinosaur, no matter how close they are. It’s still a fascinating, wonderful illusion — maybe the best I’ve seen in one of these headsets, and far cooler than watching an AR model through an iPhone screen. But it’s not the kind of revolutionary (or downright magical) advance that Magic Leap has teased… [Read full story]
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