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One of my big issues with my Dec. 20th Instant Analysis of the extremely limited and highly controlled reveal of the Magic Leap One was that you could not see the eyes of the users. I have since had multiple people tell/warn me that the Magic Leap images were “fake” 3-D renderings that where then photo-edited together citing an article by ARS Technica. The ARS Technica article now includes an update with a response from Magic Leap quoted below (with my bold highlighting) of the Magic Leap comment:
Update, 3:05 pm: A Magic Leap spokesperson sent a statement to Ars Technica to explain the hardware images posted today: “The photos are not renderings, and the only retouching that was done was to edit out some sensitive IP.”
So we really have no idea of what parts of the images were “faked”, ostensibly to hide sensitive I.P. What we do know is that all the images in the Rolling Stone/Glixel article came from Magic Leap.
A number of news sources and blogs have called what Magic Leap dig with Rolling Stone an “announcement,” when it not. There was no availability (other than a vague sometime in 2018), no feature set, and no price. It is not even clear whether the 2018 date will be for just for an NDA controlled SDK or something people will be able to freely buy and freely review. And to top it all off, we don’t even know how much the pictures were doctored. In a follow-up article, I’m going to show how everything except the finer details of the form factor of the headset was already publicly available. So even much of the form factor was not really news if you were seriously following Magic Leap.
I was suspicious that the one photo I used might be doctored so I did look at the few available “head shots” including the one on the right. In this photo, it looks more like the person is wearing dark sunglasses and with the sharper reflections is less likely doctored. I asked Brian Crecente, the author of the Rolling Stone article in a Reddit AMA if you could see the user’s eye’s when others were wearing the headset and he responded, “I never saw someone else with these on in person, but I’d say it would probably be like looking at someone with glasses that have a slight tint. I did take off the headset and look at it from the other side and could see the light from the images showing up in the lenses.” He also wrote in the AMA, “I haven’t tried Meta, but the images felt like they had more substance than with the HoloLens.” but also wrote, “The room was a bit dark, like the sort of dark you’d set the lights to to set a romantic atmosphere. Wait a second, maybe Magic Leap was hitting on me!!! I suspect that helped with making things really pop”
So not only was the room so dark, (perhaps like the room from the Sigu Rós video video linked to in the article), he was in effect wearing effect sunglasses to further darken the real world. Likely it was to make the images seem more solid or “pop” as the author put it. But this also suggest that the brightness of the display is limited. So when Mr. Crecente said with respect to Magic Leap seeming more “substance than Hololens,” it likely had much more to do with the demo setup than a substantive difference in the technologies capability.
In the Rolling Stone article Mr. Crecente wrote, “The goggles were so comfortable you almost forget you’re wearing them.” In the Reddit AMA he wrote (with my bold emphasis), “Hard to say if it was fun, because the demos were so brief.” So it sounds like he did not wear them for very long. As anyone in this field would know, or anyone old enough to wear glasses made of actual glass (and not lighter weight plastics), even a small amount of weight on the head and particularly the nose builds up and what might be comfortable for few minutes can become a pain after an hour so so of use.
Then you take all the ethereal language that was taken a face value in the article, with the quote of Ronnie Abovitz, “You’re really co-creating it with this massive visual signal which we call the dynamic analog light field signal. That is sort of our term for the totality of the photon wavefront and particle light field everywhere in the universe. It’s like this gigantic ocean; it’s everywhere. It’s an infinite signal and it contains a massive amount of information.” which should make any that understands what Magic Leap is actual doing want to puke.
What Magic Leap showed was at best “demoware” which I have defined before as:
Demoware – Refers to a device that is not near being ready to be a product and has serious problems and the demo has been crafted to hide these problems. It is easier to change the content of the demo and/or its environment than fix the product. A well crafted demo will not display anything that will demonstrate the weaknesses of the device.
So what we have is a very short demo in a very crafted environment with very short and limited demos to a writer that does not appear to be skilled in evaluating display devices, with all visual content provided by Magic Leap, and with the author of the article additionally handcuffed by an NDA. Real news, does not need any of these encumbrances.
Let me be clear, I am not meaning to pick-on or saying that Mr. Crecente did anything wrong. He had an opportunity to look at something at a company that had raise $1.9B and write and article about it and lots of writers would have welcomed this opportunity and I am glad he wrote the article. He was upfront and honest about the encumbrances and willing to answer questions. I’m just trying to point out what Magic Leap is doing.