Magic Leap One – Fake News?

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 , 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.




Karl Guttag
Karl Guttag
Articles: 247


    • So you say, but I bet you read and consider anything you comes across from Rony (and therefore don’t “automatically skip over” it).

      I bet!

      • I read and listen to it, but then I get nauseous. All he is doing is redefining words. Maybe I should up up a translation from Magic Leap Hype into English.

  1. He’s full of it, but they are at least doing technically impressive things. Unlike Microvision, which is a laughing stock.

    • What has Magic Leap done that is “technically impressive?” It is business impressive to raise that much money, but having looked through their patents, I don’t see that much which is impressive compared to others in the field.

      As long as they can pick and chose the audience and do the “demoware” thing they may seem impressive. But to be really impressive, it has to work in real use.

      • Speaking of microvision, here’s another product they definitely aren’t in.

        Strange though, since they don’t normally miss a chance to hype and pump an application that they have no chance of succeeding in, why they aren’t still talking up eyewear.

      • This does not stop their fan-people from going around trying to say they that Microvision might be in Magic Leap. I don’t understand these cults for companies that have never done what they say they are going to do. A little hype from the company goes a long way when the cult of followers then extrapolate beyond even the company’s hype. For companies that like to shade the truth, this works out great for them as they can let the hype build without their finger prints on it.

        Part of the issue is that people will project their own desires and wishes upon what a company is doing in the absence of any concrete evidence. In the case of Magic Leap and Microvision, the reality is much less than the company could possibly deliver.

  2. And what’s the political agenda in the choosing of the models for ‘the’ reveal, why both male and female are of the same ethnic black-mixed complexion.

    • I don’t believe this is important. Some might consider it “virtue signaling” or it could just be a random choice. Please try to keep your questions to the technology.

  3. Always great to read your insights, Karl. Though your own critiques of ML are fairly objective, I do find it interesting how so many people want to shower ML with hostility and vitriol. It’s not just Internet trolls — I hear similar sentiment from industry insiders who have been predicting crash and burn for a few years now. It’s easy to see why this happening when then have promised so much yet delivered so little. But I have such a hard time reconciling this sentiment with the multiple rounds of investment they have received from some of the smartest money around. I can see a company like this maybe managing to pull the wool over the eyes of their A rounders, but to continually get round after round of big, smart money leads me to believe they’re onto something. They’re trying to solve some really hard problems here and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until they run out of money and have nothing to show for it. After all, it’s no skin off my back.

    • Thank Ron. A fair summary of the current situation. I don’t like mindless bashing/trolls any more than I like mindless hype.

      A lot of the experts will not talk publicly because there is nothing in it for them. A lot of researchers don’t care whether something is practical or not. But in the over year I have been writing about Magic Leap nobody has produce ANY evidence that contradicts what I have written about Magic Leap, the best they can do is “these big names would not have invested this much money . . . ” I would suggest you watch the movie “The Big Short” or consider the Dot-Com Bubble, or read the history of Theranos.

      This is not about ego or envy, it is about technology for me. I have spent a lot of time studying Magic Leaps patent, video, and paper trail. There is no “there there.” You dig through their patents and they are doing pretty much what Hololens is doing. Likely and LCOS microdisplay, with diffraction grating waveguides. I have published a ton of information showing what Magic Leap is doing. Magic Leap is still talking about mythical Photonic coupling to the eye or some such nonsense.

      I’m happy to debate the subject with anyone that has any evidence that Magic Leap is a real breakthrough.

      A lot of time the “smart money” is just following each other. They lead investor can have all kinds of reasons why they invested and once a big name like Google invests (and the word I have is 3 groups at Google looked at investing and 2 of them didn’t like Magic Leap). This is the same Google that thought Google Glass was a good idea and (without checking) I think Google put a lot more money into Glass than Magic Leap. Google can do some strange investment calculus with all their money and their desire to cover some “bets.”

      The way I look at it, Magic Leap is burning up a lot of capital that could be better used by other companies and will in the end sour the market.

      Got to go, I am working on an article.

  4. Theranos was in the same situation! Lots of money and in the end of the day, the company made up the performance to comfort the believer…..
    I manage a VC fund, and fomo is the deadliest sin for ppl in VC

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