back to article Finally, after years of dunking on Magic Leap, El Reg's Kieren tries out the techno hype goggles. And the verdict...

This week AR hype machine Magic Leap will finally – finally! – start selling its headset to the public but you'll need to go to one of three AT&T stores in Boston, Chicago or San Francisco, to buy them. And fork over more than $2,000 to get a pair. Thanks to the company's effort to build buzz in the tech community, we finally …

  1. jake Silver badge

    I already have a pair.

    They allow me to tell marketards to fuck right the hell off when I see through their vaporware.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: I already have a pair.

      Mine are made by Ju Junta & have this really neat peril sensative feature that keeps me from panicking. =-)P

  2. cornetman Bronze badge

    > cheap frames at $100

    I don't think $100 for a pair of frames that probably cost $1 to make is "cheap" in anyone's book.

    $1000 is just stupid.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Meet Tom Davies, who makes spectacles that cost up to £10,000.

      I'm sure they are OK, personally I have a quite nice pair from Specsavers that do me.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Spectacle frames and lenses are dominated by one manufacturer in Europe. I am sure that many of these are identical across price ranges. Many people seem to be fooled by the 'high price = best quality' for glasses as in many other areas. I can understand (but would hope not to buy into the illusion) but at least cars are an example of conspicuous consumption if that is what turns you on.

        1. SolidSquid

          From what I understand, it's not just Europe. Luxottica (who I'm assume you're referring to) also trade heavily in North America, as well as having a presence in most other areas of the world

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Luxottica is actually MORE dominant in the US than it is in Europe as far as I know. But yes, it is ridiculous just how monopolized the market for something as simple as glasses has become.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge
              1. paulf Silver badge
                Meh

                Fascinating article.

                It was a sad day when Luxottica bought out Oakley. I only buy their frames as they're absolutely bomb proof. My first pair was in 2005 and I still use those frames, albeit with updated lenses, as a spare pair. Unfortunately my optician (David Clulow) has also been borged by Luxottica so I get triple shafted by them (eye test, Oakley frames, Essilor lenses). The only reason I keep going there is the optician there is really good and knows her stuff, unlike the robot button pushers at other places who just follow the script on the computerised testing machine.

      2. CountCadaver

        Specsavers are useless frankly, I use a good local independent for eye tests and then buy the glasses through an online company, most recently "glasses direct". handy for the wife's glasses as she keeps dropping them and needs them constantly, £50 for 2 pairs, both with scratch resistant and anti glare coating isn;t too bad tbh and they've lasted well, apart from ocassional screw tighten ups.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          she keeps dropping them

          I've worn glasses from about the age of 5 (at one point, replacing them 3 times a year - and not because I dropped them!) until now (about 50 years later). I did wear contact lenses for about 25 years but eventually went back to glasses.

          I can't recall *ever* having dropped a pair.. (I've had one pair come off with wind-shear while riding a pushbike downhill very fast and I've trodden on on pair after knocking off the bedside table and getting out of bed to look for them and I broke a few at school after various sports incidents though).

          Mind you, since I'm functionally blind without them (focal distance is about 5cm in front of my nose and everything after that is totally blurred) I wear them 99.9% of the time I'm awake. And I use a proper optician since I don't trust the clowns at SpecSavers[1] to actually produce glasses that I can use.

          The ever-generous government counts me as partially-sighted so that means I get a massive £5 off the cost of each lens. Since mine have to be made specially (and of advanced materials so as not to be too heavy for my face and not break due to differential cooling through manufacture) and cost ~£100 each, that £5 doesn't get claimed (it would cost the opticians more to claim it than it's worth - they do reduce *my* cost by £5 per lens though.)

          [1] I went there once for an eye-test since my employers were prepared to pay for it. They person doing the test made a real hash of it and, had I worn glasses made as the result of that test, wouldn't have been able to see well enough to use a computer. They managed to get the dioptre *and* astigmatism values wrong for both eyes..

          1. CountCadaver

            Not so much drop as fall off face then....her ears are at slightly different heights, which makes getting glasses to stay on her head a challenge, stopped asking the "professionals" to do it as they were either too tight and dug into the higher ear or too loose, Easy enough to do, hair dryer to warm the leg and tweak it, test fit, rinse repeat

    2. SolidSquid

      Got to admit, I was surprised at that. Think my current pair cost me £20 and they've lasted a good few years

    3. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Average cost of a pair of specs in the US is $253 (as at 2011), and £148 in the UK (from 2005). IIRC, manufacturing cost is around $7-10. Several online companies are trying to break the stranglehold Luxxotica (and a couple of others) have, but the main problem is you still need to go to an optitian to get your prescription and you ideally need to get one to fit the glasses to you.

      Glasses are all made in one or two sizes, generally, so that adds to the problem. Would be interesting to see more on the fitting process that North uses....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Interestingly in some lesser known parts of Asia I was able to get a prescription using a machine that looked into my eyes and dynamically adjusted focus a number of times and then printed out the result in a few seconds (without me saying anything). This was followed by a quick scan of my eyes to look for abnormalities and a cheap pair of glasses was ready the same day.

        The same prescription result was gained by a UK optician a couple of years later requiring half an hour of me trying to work out just which image I could see clearer.

        I was also able to get lenses for frameless glassess in several asian countries (not in big cities) that were impossible to be replaced in the UK at any optician. When they asked where they had last been replaced they were surprised when I told them a small back street optician in Cambodia.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          The automated machines are pretty accurate if you have a "simple" prescription (No prism or a more difficult astigmatism). They're often used to get a baseline reading at opticians here in the Netherlands. If, like me, you have strongly differing astigmatism with the axes crossed about 90 degrees between the eyes they're not always accurate. In my case the cilinder reading is often off by half a point or more and the axis rarely matches. The speed of an optician working through

          Then it comes down to the skill of the optician whether the placement of the lenses in the rims is done correctly. This can make or break a set of glasses with correctly measured lenses.

          1. cornetman Bronze badge

            Here in Canada, the economics of opticians are pretty screwed up.

            So, you really have 3 costs: eye test, lenses and frames.

            Eye Test usually involves consultation with an expert and probably takes the longest time, so should really be the most expensive part.

            Lenses are often custom made, but are usually done by machine automatically, so I would expect that to be a little cheaper than the test.

            Frames are standard items made by the thousands in factories probably in China. Obviously, these would be by far the cheapest.

            What do we see in practice though? Free eye test, moderately expensive basic lenses, and obscenely expensive frames. Completely f*cked up.

        2. Duffy Moon

          "I was able to get a prescription using a machine that looked into my eyes and dynamically adjusted focus a number of times and then printed out the result in a few seconds"

          I've experienced that machine for several years at Boots, but they still also use the old-fashioned methods as well - presumably they use both as a comparison.

          I buy good frames (acetate) online, then send them off to a 'reglazing' service. It's still expensive as I'm very myopic and prefer thin lenses, but still cheaper than the outrageous high street prices.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The idea that the manufacturer will provide a set of standard lenses would be a problem. They may well come in a standard range of focal lengths which would deal with long and short sightedness but for many of us they'd have to deal with astigmatism which introduces two more variables for each eye, the axis and the cylindrical focal length.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I'm fully aware of the problems of astigmatism (both my parents were astigmatic). But given that no two astigmatics are quite alike, it's not something that can really be solved at the factory. Quite bluntly, corrective lenses for astigmatism (usually done by prescription by an optometrist) can be complicated and expensive because (as aforesaid) they have to be custom made for each person and often each eye (since often no two eyes are the same, either--most eye problems, especially asitgmatisms, are asymmetric).

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        since often no two eyes are the same, either

        Mine certainly are not - and neither are my two brothers who need glasses for short sight..

        (OldestBrother has had lens implants and a tweak with laser surgery and got pretty much perfect vision. He still needs glasses though because his arms are now not long enough..)

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Add to this that many folks need prisms in one lens (or both) as their eyes are not perfectly aligned. Mine certainly aren't and my glasses do have prism in one lens. I do have times even glasses doing close work as one eye will start to drift from eye strain. I personally would expect the same issue with any of these VR headsets.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        the distance between pupils is also key to getting the eyes aligned in a pair of glasses - the position of the lenses in the frame matters.

  4. The Nazz Silver badge

    Virtual reality huh? Been there and failed.

    The wife (now ex for those who haven't been paying attention) had her own version of reality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Virtual reality huh? Been there and failed.

      How do you know it isn't your version of reality that is the faulty one?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Virtual reality huh? Been there and failed.

        well, it could run this continuous ticker along the bottom: "This is NOT a simulation, this is not a simulation..."

        ...

        Sounds familiar? Should do! ;)

      2. macjules Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Virtual reality huh? Been there and failed.

        When it is one's wife your are discussing it is ALWAYS her version of reality that is the correct one. Your own one is purely incidental and does not matter in the reality of things like washing up, getting the children to school or the 1001 things that you take for granted that happen around the home.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Virtual reality huh? Been there and failed.

      How did you post that from the seventies? That's some serious time travel tech!!

  5. Teiwaz Silver badge

    although you have to wear it at a weird angle, so it feels a little like when your glasses droop off your nose.

    Why did this remind me of the glasses handle from Steve Martins 'The Jerk'.

    Fortunately I doubt this will be popular enough to have the same story end.

  6. Kevin Johnston

    Has someone missed an opportunity?

    Could the Almalance product be the new optometry tool? Put them on and use a controller to get the best image which then prints out your prescription...no more 'is it brighter now, or now...clearer now, or now' for what seems like hours on end.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Has someone missed an opportunity?

      I believe there are devices that exist in optometrists that do something rather similar based on measuring the curvature of the eyeball - at least to get to a ballpark prescription that can then be fine tuned with the weird Clockwork Orange glasses and "is it better with this lens, or this lens" questionnaire

    2. MrXavia

      Re: Has someone missed an opportunity?

      They do exist, when I had laser eye surgery, the prescription was done by machine, since it is a permanent change, it needs to be a lot more accurate than asking you...

      The device automatically adjusted an image until it was perfectly focused, I wish they could add that tech to VR headsets... I always find they shift and the 'sweet spot' where everything is clear keeps shifting

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glasses are not cheap: they range from cheap frames at $100 or so up to

    here's how I discovered we live in parallel universes: In my world, I got 2 pairs of cheap frames, inc cheap lenses for the equivalent of USD 20, including postage. Sure, it was a deal, but what isn't these days? Sans promotion I would have paid USD 30 - 35 for the same (and 2 for 1 is run around 99% of the time). So, like I said, parallel universes (and off topic, what else).

  8. 0laf Silver badge
    WTF?

    Shocked

    I'm really shocked that there was actually a product at the end of this. I was really expecting the company to dissppear in a puff of investors money.

    That there is actually something in existance that does something resembling the description is startling.

    OK I think VR and AR are hype in the same style as 3D tvs and will only ever be a niche product. I can imagine architects, scientists, engineers and town planners using them to view plans, molecules and models in 3D but not really in the home.

    1. OneTopBanana
      Holmes

      Re: Shocked

      " I can imagine architects, scientists, engineers and town planners using them to view plans, molecules and models in 3D but not really in the home."

      This sounds very close to the famous quote from Ken Olson 'There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.'

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Shocked

        Fair point but I think this is a much more specific use case than a general purpose computer and an analogy with 3D tv is closer.

        3D was a big hype seller but is rarely mentioned these days. People were (are?) more interested in 4k and HDR when those developments came out.

  9. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

    Why is the view dark and blurry

    There is a very readable review from a man who seems to know what the optical wizardry in the Magic Leap is about (I know I don't).

    In short he says that what Magic Leap started with was an unreasonable amount of optimism as to what two conflicting physical principles will allow them to do. From initially planned six or so planes of projection they had to cut down to two in order to bring the two respective qualities of the projection to bearable levels, which fact brought severe limits to how good the depth of field of the projection can be (result: not good, really).

    https://www.kguttag.com/2018/09/26/magic-leap-review-part-1-the-terrible-view-through-diffraction-gratings/

  10. Cuddles Silver badge

    CAD

    "Another app was a rendition of a virtual building which, again, was quite engrossing because you were able to walk through it – architects would love it and the company rep said the system will work with most CAD files, so it is all too possible to imagine people testing out and walking around large-scale architectural designs, or even digitally rendered furniture."

    I don't get it. This is also entirely possible with regular, much cheaper, VR headsets. I'm working on a project right now to create a full virtual model of a particle accelerator for public outreach, and smaller sections work decently even in those crappy headsets that you just stick a phone in, although you need something like an Oculus to go bigger and get decent resolution. But the important point of this is that it's VR - you see the model and only the model. What could possibly be the point in doing something like this in AR, where you'll now be seeing two entirely unrelated buildings superimposed on top of each other? Or how can you do detailed engineering CAD when the thing you're trying to look at is transparent and overlapped by the room around you? I'm far from convinced about most of the hype for VR, but there's definite niche use for it in some places. It's possible AR might also have its own uses, but they certainly won't be exactly the same things we can already do much better in VR at a fraction the cost.

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Re: CAD

      Good question.

      So I didn't explain it well enough, but you should be able to position your virtual model in space.

      Which means you can physically stand in the place where a new design will be and "see it" in place.

      So if a brand new building, you can see it in situ; if a redesign, you are see the new design in a space you are familiar with; if a piece of furniture, you can see it in the room (something that retail companies are increasingly offering with smartphones).

      This does provide a much more satisfying and real feeling than a pure VR view - which always feels a little like a computer simulation.

      Hope that helps

      Kieren

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: CAD

        "So if a brand new building, you can see it in situ; if a redesign, you are see the new design in a space you are familiar with; if a piece of furniture, you can see it in the room (something that retail companies are increasingly offering with smartphones)."

        I still don't see how that really helps. How often are you going to have a completely empty space just waiting for you to wander around it looking at a virtual model exactly where you plan on building the real thing? Buildings get built on sites that already have things on them, machines get built in rooms that are already in use, or are planned for buildings that don't actually exist yet. VR can be useful precisely because it makes it possible to explore virtual models without leaving your desk. AR requiring a nice big empty space just sitting around waiting for your virtual model is such a tiny niche I just don't see the point of it at all. If you have that empty space prepared but haven't even finished your design work yet, something has gone very wrong with your planning.

    2. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      Re: CAD

      Something I saw an ad for a while back, forgotten most of the details, but it was basically an AR system that displayed the various buried services - as per the "Dial Before You Dig" information.

      Extremely useful idea, useful and lifesaving application for utilities sector, especially with more stuff stuck underground all the time.... only let down by the hardware probably being inadequate - a generation or two earlier than whats discussed in this article, and the fact that the DATA it is supposed to display DOESNT EXIST. Underground service plans are not issued as digital position information - usually a 3D .dxf as the most universal format - but as a printable pdf. This is most likely because the contractors installing the services originally would not have captured accurate location data, so if the DBYD people provided detailed information that turned out to be incorrect - they could be held liable.

      Within an organisation there may well be an accurate services database, and in the fullness of time it will probably become ubiquitous , and some clever person will connect up a scanning ground-penetrating-radar, but until then its not ready.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rather like my phone, I've never dropped my glasses. They've come off my head a few times, normally due to a blow to the head or face, which did much more damage than dropping them would anyway... What the hell are people doing with them that would cause them to be dropped?

    1. zuckzuckgo

      > What the hell are people doing with them that would cause them to be dropped?

      What are you doing that you keep getting hit you in the face? Customer support? Apple Genius?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My workshop has a low ceiling, with pipes and shelves in odd places, and doorframes at just the wrong height. That's the usual reason. I once managed to catch a piece of wood I was turning round to sand to other end of on a pipe, it bounced off and smacked me in the temple, which caused me to drop it on my big toe, causing me to hop and hit my head on the same pipe.

        Other causes were:

        a narrowboat I wasn't expecting to be there in the dark

        forgetting the hardtop was on my car

        calling a bouncer a -ing -tard who's brain had come in a box marked *batteries not incuded but no one noticed. that one was my fault, to be honest.

  12. defiler Silver badge

    I'm glad this article came out on the 2nd

    I wouldn't have believed the headline on Monday.

  13. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    In my prescription?

    producing a series of lens inserts in a range of strengths

    I very much doubt whether they make them in a 12 Dioptre (or 10.5 for the right eye for that matter). Or with the right degree of cyliner to cope with astigmatism..

    Pass!

  14. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    How about a set of goggles like Maria Calevera has in RWBY?

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