My thoughts on developing with Magic Leap One for a week

As many of you asked, my Magic Leap review after spending a week with it:

I genuinely love it actually.
Compared to ‘that other AR headset’ I find it more refined in most areas:

Wearing it is very comfortable as it’s so light and well balanced.

Fitting was not as delicate as I expected, you can go through a proper fitting/calibration routine but I generally don’t do this for demos.

It comes with 2 forehead pieces, 5 nose pieces, can do eye calibration and adjust the waveguide planes during calibration.
Maybe you can fit (small) glasses underneath but that’s probably not a good idea (running the risk to scratch the optics).

The increased FoV is welcome and noticeable (especially in the height) and the slightly blocked of sides actually help.

Visual quality is much increased, no more RGB separation (due to the more modern, much flatter waveguides).

Build/deploy cycles are very fast (there is no UWP overhead for example).

“Zero Iteration Mode” allows you to have a complete live Unity scene and access to the profiler in realtime. Haven’t checked if this is available for UE4 yet.

The controller is very nice, navigating the menus works much better than using hand gestures, you always feel like you’re in control.

On a tech level there are lots of welcome features:

More hand gestures and true hand/finger points.
World meshing is better and faster.
Plane detection/extraction (from the world mesh) is very fast and easy.
Raycasting using controller, head direction and eye direction is great. Using the controller feels very intuitive and more precise than just the head direction.
Eye tracking works well (even though I wear contact lenses) and opens up new doors for interaction/storytelling.
Integrated image recognition/tracking means no need for (slow) Vuforia anymore.
The increased compute and GPU power is very very welcome, feels we can actually do things now and not constantly be restricted.
Using UE4 is supported (although the samples aren’t as comprehensive as Unity).

Tracking is good but not perfect.

In comparison HoloLens has slightly better tracking but on that platform if the app falls below 60 fps (and many do due to the lack of CPU/GPU power) tracking quickly gets wobbly.

Magic Leap (the company) seems very responsive and helpful on social media and on their forums.

There are many small OS/driver updates instead of a few large ones per year (at least so far in the pre 1.0 stage).

There is actually warranty in case there is a hardware problem (should be a no-brained but some other companies refuse warranty on developer kits).

The SDK/examples are clean and good (documentation is excellent) it’s not as comprehensive as the massive MRTK community effort though.

At the moment live-streaming is still missing which is a bit tricky when doing demos (should be coming soon though).

At the moment there is no built in multi-device sharing (I hear that is coming as well and of course you can roll your own).

No carrying case, the box comes with handle, I’m using a pelican-case (well different brand, same idea).

I can litterally develop all day, with the powered USB hub it keeps it charge while connected and being used.

It’s also comfortable enough to wear for hours on end and wear it while using Unity / Visual Studio.


At the bottom of the line the Magic Leap One is cheaper and offers more features and mostly of higher quality for that price.



And before you ask, don’t get me wrong I still love my HoloLens 1 and hope Microsoft will soon let us know more about v2, the AR headset wars have finally begun! 🙂

Saturday, September 29th, 2018 Magic Leap, Ranting, XR