Working With Magic Day One: Behind The Scenes On A Developer’s First Day With Magic Leap
European start-up Holo-Light chronicled their first day of testing the magic of Magic Leap One.
It’s Saturday morning, and the business park in Ismaning, in the north of Munich, is almost completely deserted. Only one office in the entire area seems suspiciously crowded. Inside, a group of sleepy-looking people gathers around a cluster of tables. A few of these people are still buried in their hoodies, half sleepwalking and powering up their computers, while Susi, Co-founder and COO of the company, is placing a ton of sweets in the middle of the room. The company is Holo-Light, one of Europe’s leading Mixed Reality start-ups, and the team is preparing for a hackathon—in other words, a long weekend in front of their computers. As Co-Founders Florian (CEO) and Alex (CTO) enter the room with two boxes bearing the Magic Leap logo, the programmers’ eyes slowly widen and light up with curiosity.
“Here they are,” says Flo, eagerly lifting up the box in his hands. “And now, let’s test them ’til they break!”
A few hours later, all of the developers had tried out the Magic Leap One and formed their first opinions about it. Christof Fiedler, Lead Developer at Holo-Light, sums up the first general impressions:
“Our first impression of the Magic Leap One’s hardware was quite positive overall. The different components are substantial enough to convey that they are made of quality materials, and the system appears attractive and fully thought-out.
Putting on the glasses is very easy and they sit comfortably, and to a certain degree, lightly on one’s head, especially in comparison to the Microsoft HoloLens. It is important to mention that the Lightpack, which is attached to the glasses by a cable, must always be carried around by the wearer. The weight is not carried on one’s head, but the method of carrying the Lightpack is not exactly as simple as wearing the glasses themselves. One has the option of attaching it to a pants pocket or using the “carrying case”—a shoulder strap and a small, flexible fixture on which to hang the Lightpack—included with the system. Time will tell to what extent this is more practical for industrial tasks or trade fair appearances than for instance the weight of the HoloLens directly on one’s head.”
Going deeper into the technical details, Denis Tschitschenkow, Junior Developer at Holo-Light, divides the biggest aspects of the Magic Leap One in comparison to other AR/MR devices like the Microsoft HoloLens into 3 main categories: visualisation, interaction, and developer environment.
“At first glance, one notices that the Magic Leap One has more graphical power than the HoloLens. The resolution rendered is 1280×960 per eye. In comparison to the HoloLens, its lenses are a bit darker and the field of view is a bit larger. However, this is because the Magic Leap One more strongly limits the real field of view with its design. Due to this, the immersion is naturally greater.
The tracking is nearly as good as with the HoloLens with a few small exceptions. Now and then holograms appear to move slightly, but in general the stability is very high.
In general, Magic Leap managed to deliver very polished demo apps. For instance, all objects in the Create app interact with each other, and furthermore, the holograms interact very well with the scanned room mesh. The spatial mapping – appears to be more exact than with the HoloLens. Additionally, the spatial mesh is more finely rendered. While we explored the spatial mapping potential, we must do more research on the spatial understanding to figure out everything which the Magic Leap One can recognise.”
“There are essentially eight standard gestures. The tracking points of the hand recognition jump a bit, but the Magic Leap One recognises the individual joints of the hand and fingers very precisely. The gesture recognition is very accurate and fast, and the glasses recognise both hands. The only problem of note is the turning of hands. On this point, it still is not 100% stabile, leading to occasional misperception. This means that quick hand movements and complicated gestures are not always easily read. The API allows access to all fingers on one’s hand, but at the moment, it appears that only thumb + one finger (possibly the index finger) are tracked. The rest will likely come in an update.
Controllers are tracked in six degrees of freedom with the assistance of 3 magnetic coils. The precision is naturally dependent on range, and we found that it fails near large metallic objects or electrical wiring, where the virtual position of the controller noticeably drifts. Its use in a factory setting is therefore questionable and could present a downside when developing potential applications for industrial use. However, the magnetic tracking is flawless with a precision of up to 1-2 cm in any other setting.”
“The development kit for the Magic Leap One is very simple and provides countless options. The API for the features tested up to this point is clear, comprehensible, and well-structured.
We develop our applications with the Unity engine. and the Lumin SDK from Magic Leap as well as the Magic Leap Unity Package – (the Lumin SDK is included in the Magic Leap One package). We use the Unity MLTP (Magic Leap Technical Prototype) -, into which the Lumin SDK is integrated and with which we can build directly from Unity. As Lumin is based on Android, one deploys an app with an .mpk file (the equivalent of Android’s .apk) via command line.
As a first test, we created an app that shows a 3D object, a McLaren Mercedes racing car with 450,000 polygons, which ran smoothly at 60 fps. Additionally, we ported one of our own software products, Holo-View, a CAD visualisation and interaction tool, onto the Magic Leap One and tested it. We were able to deploy and run Holo-View, and also load our sample .jt files.
In this version of Holo-View interactions which are usually handled by the Air tap gesture on HoloLens are done with gaze only. As we continue to explore the Magic Leap One’s potential, we will see how well hand gestures and the controller can be integrated. We will also investigate the multi-user possibilities and cross-platform applications.”
Holo-Light’s developers were able to discover the “magic” of the Magic Leap One the whole weekend, and what they saw stirred up their enthusiasm. Christof Fiedler sums up their excitement and future plans for the device:
“All in all, the developers at Holo-Light are impressed with the Magic Leap One. Following the first intensive testing, the impression arose that the demos available up until this point had not come close to showing the device’s potential. Many traits of the Magic Leap One are better than previous devices on the market.
The experience is fundamentally better on certain points than the available mixed reality (MR) / augmented reality (AR) devices, and the glasses are fun to develop for. Only after we took a closer look at the SDK did we see the true potential of the Magic Leap One. Following our intensive examination, we see it in any case as the first real competition for the HoloLens.”
Holo-Light’s team members are all aflutter about being among the very first people in Europe to have had the chance to test the Magic Leap One during their hackathon. Having established themselves as a leading European brand when it comes to MR/AR applications (especially for industrial uses), their close contact to Silicon Valley start-up BAD VR led to the opportunity to receive 2 of the very first Magic Leap One units delivered globally for comprehensive reviews.