back to article Teardown chaps strip away magic from Magic Leap's nerd goggles

Screwdriver botherers at iFixit have turned their attention to the hugely hyped and hugely late Magic Leap One headset and reduced it to its component parts. The Magic Leap One mixed-reality headset purports to "free your mind" while also freeing your wallet of a hefty $2,295. Sadly, while it succeeds at the latter, it has …

  1. MatsSvensson

    Great for when you are invited to a costume party and you want to go as Seth Green in Can't Hardly Wait.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      There's a reference I wasn't expecting to see today.


  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

    I'm sure that Reg readers were pretty much expecting this turn of events. Seems that the promotional videos were lies after all. No surprise there.

    So it's a bum ride for over $2K. Google Glass was less expensive, and Google was behind it - it tanked anyway.

    I predict the same future for this ex-Magic Not-such-a-Leap.

    1. detritus

      Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

      Whilst I agree with your conclusion, I'm not sure your reasoning about Google's weight behind a project leading to its success - given their track record, if anything, the opposite.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

        Indeed, I don't consider it worthwhile drawing parallels between Google Glass and Magic Leap's device. For starters, the chief hurdle to Google Glass's adoption (and thus further development) was social push back - people don't want to be filmed in public places - whereas this Magic Leap isn't designed to be worn out and about in town.

        Sidenote: I learnt just the other day that the much lauded GCam algorithms used in the Google Pixel phones came out of Google's Glass project. The weight and size constraints of the Glass headset prevented them from using a bigger camera module, so the engineers had to look at what they could do with software.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

          Clearly this is a product that was over-promised and under-delivered. And the company made it worse with it's fake demos, secretiveness and lateness to market.

          However I have to say that in principle the idea of having all the room tracking and image processing on the headset is the way to go. Having reference dots for the headset to pick up or pre-mapping a room limits you to a physical space that you already control, and having the headset do it all frees you up from that. In the end Magic Leap bit off more than they could chew and there isn't yet the technology available to bring the level of augmented reality they were aiming for to market at a reasonable price.

          I'm curious to see if anyone will be able to pull that off within the next few years. Anyone of you been messing about with these type of headsets care to comment?

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

            I'm curious to see if anyone will be able to pull that off within the next few years. Anyone of you been messing about with these type of headsets care to comment?

            I have played with various generations of 3D system, some of which date back before some people reading this have been alive so I am probably aware of a few issues which tend to go overlooked.

            Each generation of 3D system has improved somewhat, but overall are still disappointing. They are a gimmick, and will likely always remain so.

            Certain problems are never addressed with any system, and are probably unfixable. Any system using glasses means that your eyes keep focusing on something very close to them, and then is being tricked into thinking that it is seeing different distances. This means that your eyes muscles are under a tremendous amount of pressure in constantly refocusing, which leads to eyestrain, which leads to headaches.

            Additionally, as the system gets progressively better, you end up with motion sickness when your eyes report that you are moving, and your other senses (inner ear, etc) report that your stationary.

            The magic leap system is an attempt to resolve the latter issue, but the former issue is effectively impossible to resolve.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

              With properly designed optics the image presented to the eyes should be correctly focused for medium distance to infinity, meaning little to no eye strain. I doubt this Magic Leap headset manages this correctly though.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        @ detritus

        Apparently I wasn't clear enough. I did not wish to draw any parallel between Google Glass and Magic Leap. What I wanted to point out is that Google's enormous resources were behind Glass and it tanked - due to social pressure as has been pointed out.

        Magic Leap does not have Google's means, and it is disappointing people right out of the gate.

        That does not bode well for the future of its little toy, especially, again - as has been pointed out, with ML's past as a swindler now public for all to see.

    2. holmegm

      Re: So it's not that magical now that it's real ? Shocking, innit ?

      I wouldn't buy it, to be sure.

      That said, people regularly drop $100+ on a bottle of perfume. Twenty bottles of perfume for some fancy schmacy high tech gadget might not seem excessive to some folks.

  3. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    If anyone’s curious about the processor module, here’s something to read:

    I think It can be passively cooled with a big heatsink, but presumably a fan is lighter.

  4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I'm unexpectedly impressed

    Well, there is a heck of a lot of pretty good technology there. The optics seem to be particularly sophisticated - way better than I expected to hear. I'd really like to see the result. The projection of IR dots and camera pick-up to map a room's dimensions also seems to be a good way to go (except for those who like very dark décore in their room), although the test will be in how well the processing can interpret the data. In fact processing speed is likely to be the major make or break. If the final result lags too badly it will just end up inducing motion sickness.

    If the hardware works as the description suggests it should, and if there is software that can make good use of that hardware, then I think it will be worth the steep asking price, albeit not something everyone could afford to spend on something as unnecessary as video gaming.

    I may just end up raising a company purchase request. For R&D purposes. I'd even put in some overtime (working from home).

    1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

      Re: I'm unexpectedly impressed

      I pretty much came to the same conclusion, the pre and over hype hasn't done it any favours, but to someone born in the 70s when Robbie the Robot and Twiki was amazing, it's a lot of neat real tech in a pair of goggles.

  5. Borg.King

    Feature Comparison Table

    I'm not a VR connoisseur by any means, but I've yet to see a side by side feature comparison of the Magic Leap One with the other [leading] units on the market?

    If this unit is as poor as reporters would have us believe, then a few facts and stats would be helpful to illustrate this conclusion.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Feature Comparison Table

      I think the difference with Magic Leap is that it, or at least it tries to be, an AR device rather than VR so it's overlaying what you're seeing with extra information rather than just replacing your complete field of view. Shockingly this is much harder if you want it to appear realistic, sure it's possible on a phone but that's really a 2D representation of reality anyway.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Feature Comparison Table

        Yep, the only other headset worth comparing it to is Microsoft's Hololens, for the reasons SkippyBing outlined.

        As I understand it, the Hololens doesn't display over as much of the user's field of view as the Magic Leap, nor does it attempt to spoof different focal planes.

        MS have taken a more sober approach, targetting industries and sectors such as architecture and plant design that traditionally have benefitted from (and thus spent good money on) visualisation equipment, works stations and CAD software. Hololens is about $3,000 which is acceptable for those sectors.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      AR Comparison:

      This link is by an engineer walking around CES looking at the AR display technology being touted by various Original Equipment Manufacturers. As such it's a good primer on the state of the art. The problem they are all trying to solve is to overlay an image over the 'real world' - and current tech either reduces the amount of light that reaches your eyes or else introduces sone colour distortion.

  6. Lt.Kije

    Waveguide wizardry

    Anyone care to enlighten me on how wave guides are used to form an image on the multiple focal plane plates??

    1. GBE

      Re: Waveguide wizardry

      Anyone care to enlighten me on how wave guides are used to form an image on the multiple focal plane plates??


      They modulate the shield frequencies and cross-circuit to B!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Waveguide wizardry

        I dunno, but this critical article has lots of diagrams of said waveguides taken from Magic Leap's various patent applications:

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Waveguide wizardry

        They modulate the shield frequencies and cross-circuit to B!

        Until the di-lithium crystalsbattery needs to be regeneratedcharged

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Waveguide wizardry

        Yeah, all well and good, but can it reverse the polarity of the neutron flow when things go wrong?

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Waveguide wizardry

          Waveguide == Lens train.

          - Equivalent, but done a little differently.

          In essence, this has six screens each with their own set of lenses, which creates two RGB images.

          One image is in focus, the other out of focus.

          You have to do three per image because focusing Red light is different to focusing Blue due to the wavelength.

          Presumably the final step is to bounce the images off a single sheet of glass separating the viewer's eye from the real world.

          The two focal planes is interesting. Wonder if it's actually better.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Waveguide wizardry

          You should know by know, you NEVER reverse the polarity of the neutron flows, nor EVER let them cross.

          That would be.....Bad.

  7. trevorde

    Missing parts

    Where were the unicorns and fairy dust?

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: Missing parts

      The unicorns are the glue surrounding the batteries.

  8. Czrly

    Can't Replace the Battery. End of.

    In my opinion, if you can't replace the battery of a device without wrecking it, that's a repairability score of zero, no matter what you *can* replace. Surely the battery is the thing that you are most likely to need to replace and why would you ever choose to swap out other bits if the result will only be crippled by an old battery that can't hold a charge anymore?

    1. Trev 2

      Re: Can't Replace the Battery. End of.

      That's when you send it back for repair (at your expense), although guaranteed out of warranty and thus wait 2 months and pay out about half the cost of the device in the first place while they just rumage around in the basement to find an unsold one to send you...if they don't lose it.

      Of course you could buy the shiny upgraded model as we'll offer you a 10% discount, and it'll only be 25% more than the cost of repair and it'll make our sales figures look good.

      Not that this is in any way part of the evil plan of mega corp. :)

  9. imanidiot Silver badge

    Meanwhile the other Leap is also hard at work

    I'm still way more impressed with what Leap Motion is showing (No relation between Magic Leap and Leap Motion btw) with their "Project Northstar". The headset looks a little The Fly meets Darth Vader, but it offers an enormous field of view and their hand tracking tech is proven and awesome.

    I get why they want inside out tracking, but for now I'd see it as much more favourable to have a combination of inside out and outside in. Track the headset in a space using something like the Vive's Lighthouse system, track and map the space from the headset for imagine forming. If an outside in tracking system can be made portable and battery operated, placing a few trackers in some random spots in the room would be an easily acceptable compromise with today's tech and provide a massive improvement over the apparently glitchy inside out tracking now provided by ML

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile the other Leap is also hard at work

      Technically, the lighthouse system is also inside out tracking - the lighthouses do none of the tracking, unlike the Occulus / PSVR solutions where the tracking is done using external cameras

  10. 0laf Silver badge

    I'm totally shocked that they ever produced anything that actually does something. I'd expected the company to fold never producing a product. Or to sell those picture viewer things with the circular slide decks for £2k before taking a one way flight to a non-extradition country.

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