Yesterday was Magic Leap (ML)’s first developer conference, and boy did they deliver on some future-forward thinking. If you didn’t manage to catch the 4 hour, yes 4-hour, keynote or just don’t have the time, have no fear. I’ve compiled some notes for you all.

This was anything but a traditional tech conference. From futurists and dreamers to AI specialists and innovators, all the speakers had one goal: to create, disrupt and promote the field of spatial computing – and all in front of an 80s backdrop with the words “free your mind”.

But seriously, watch it because it’s the next pattern in computing…

From futurists and dreamers to AI specialists and innovators, all the speakers had one goal: to create, disrupt and promote the field of spatial computing.”

Headlines

Spatial computing has most definitely arrived, with many of Magic Leap’s internal departments and partners showing off their prototypes, demos and products launching this year. The shroud of mystery around Magic Leap is no more, and to quote Robin Hunicke (Funomena), “it really f**king works”. There was a veritable smorgasbord of design thinking and AI technical achievements on display, proving Magic Leap isn’t just another XR headset company.

Spatial computing is here

  • Magicverse– Magic Leap’s CEO, Creative Strategy and Chief Futurist spent considerable time defining what they meant by “verse”. To boil it down, verse = layer – simple, right? They both spoke passionately about Magic Leap’s vision for digitising whole cities and how each layer has the potential for infinite applications. In this vision, user choices and contextual AI power this system of systems, all navigated through a spatial computing interface. Magic Leap also hinted at projects they currently have in the works, including healthcare and city-scale XR.
  • Next pattern of computing– Spatial computing was hailed by all speakers as the next pattern of computing. We have spent nearly 100 years interacting with computers by look, swipe and select, even more so with our touchscreen devices. Now with spatial computing, a new model is needed, but this time a human one, using the model of how we interact with rooms: look, grab, place.
  • Human-centred Ai & MICA– The world got a glimpse of how human-centred AI works at Magic Leap, where they spoke about three core elements:
    • The User – characterised by behaviour, emotions and preferences.
    • Aya – an intelligence companion with similar human characteristics but with the addition of memory, knowledge and the ability to interface with humans and machines.
    • Environment – giving context and setting boundaries to the experience.
  • Then, something only Ex-Machina fans would relate to, they unveiled their prototype (a big step forward in digital human recreations), MICA. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, this AI was very convincing in emotion, so much so that they asked people during testing to step back as to not invade “her” personal space, smile when she smiled and even yawn when she yawned. These instinctive reactions show just how far Magic Leap have come in this field.
  • Privacy and security– Many of Magic Leap’s team reinforced the message that privacy, security and user control are all of the utmost importance for a decentralised “Magicverse”. With so much data being recorded by the headset, such as eye movement, head position, emotions and your preferences, it’s critical that user retain as much control as possible over their data.

This AI was very convincing in emotion, so much so that they asked people during testing to step back as to not invade "her" personal space, smile when she smiled and even yawn when she yawned.”

Awesome tools for developers

  • LuminOS – Designed from the ground up for spatial computing, making it simple to use so you don’t need to be an optics or AI specialist. Features include display algorithm stack, world reconstruction, spatial audio, multiple applications and something they are calling “passable worlds” which allows for multi-user experiences. Furthermore, LuminOS will support a variety of inputs; head pose, eye gaze, 6dof controller, gestures, voice, companion app and keyboard. The LuminOS developers committed to “prioritising graphical performance first”.
  • Prismatic – a Javascript library which allows web developers to mix 3D content with web pages, allowing any web developer to build content ready for spatial computing, using “a few simple APIs”.
  • Unity Unreal – Magic Leap has made it clear that Unity & Unreal are fully supported, with both engine providers on stage talking about the tools they are providing for developers to develop their own spatial computing experiences. Unity and Unreal have made it clear their engines expand beyond game development, reaching fields such as engineering, aerospace and architecture.
  • Goats Lab Developer Samples (GLDS) – Neal Stephenson gave the most evocative talk about developer tools that I’ve ever seen. He set up his department to change the world with Baby Goat videos (yep!) and somehow he’s well on his way. He gave an overview of the developer tools and samples available from the dev portal. – Download it here: https:bit.ly/goat_labs
    • GLDS – provides the foundational tools for developers to get started with ML. Derp Dugger, Dense Mesh Adapter (Oh Neal!) which converts the world to mesh on the fly so us game devs can apply physics, AI and collisions to it. And of course it comes with Unity and Unreal support.
    • GLDS2 – shows off animation technology and character navigation mesh guidance with of course goats.
    • GLDS3 – unfortunately wasn’t shown due to a video error so this is still all a bit mysterious, but this purports to show goats with multiple complex behaviours of their own, “doing goat things, because apps will run in the background without bothering you”.
  • Multi-user experiences  allowing two people in the same room to have a shared experience and connection APIs so users in different locations can experience the same content. Also, Magic Leap launched probably the most emotive avatar chat system to date, which embodies new forms of how we can express ourselves to others, from eye blinking to impressive emotional tech and facial recognition.
  • Web pages = Web prisms – Introducing Heilo, the world’s first mixed reality browser for spatial web experiences. Goodbye “Web pages” (so late 1990’s!), welcome “Web prisms”. Heilo allows stories and content to come to life and enter our world. To see web content in this form and the moving example by the New York Times is beyond exciting.
  • The ML roadmap is exciting – ML’s roadmap is jam-packed with exciting software updates and developments. This year, ML will be introducing the first web view API, followed by Iris detection login. In Q1 2019, they will unveil a spectator companion app so people can join in the experience, using their phones, as well as Magic Script, which allows developers to create native apps. Equally importantly for ML, there will be a focus on enterprise applications throughout the year.

ML’s roadmap is jam-packed with exciting software updates and developments. This year, ML will be introducing the first web view API, followed by Iris detection login.

Innovative partnerships - Cross-sector utility

Just a note, it was nice to see so many “in headset” footage instead of glossy concept videos.

  • Tónandi – A Magic Leap Studios collaboration with Norwegian Band Sigur Rós, featuring an XR experience with over 1200 different pieces of audio
  • Royal Shakespeare Company – Magic Leap Studios collaboration bringing live-action theatre to your living room.
  • Dr Grordbots Invaders – A space invaders ‘shoot ‘em up’ by Weta Workshops. The first exclusive game for Magic Leap One. Out now on Magic World. Trailer here.
  • ILMxLAB – Announced their first XR experience “Star Wars Project Prog” which features characters from the Last Jedi. Out December 2018.
  • Framestore – Showed off their Fact or Fantasy board game in partnership with Air New Zealand. Also shared some great lessons learnt for developing in XR.
  • The Imaginarium Studios – Announced their collaboration with the Bristol Old Vic theatre and Trafalgar Entertainment Group to bring you a full live-action theatre performance of “The Grinning Man” to your ML One.
  • Insomniac Games – Very different announcement from traditional Insomniac games, a game titled “Seedling” where you nurture and grow an alien lifeform. It evolves into unexpected forms. More of an experience than a traditional game.
  • Funomena – Caught my eye with their “Luna Moondust Garden”, where players create a garden to encourage a shy little fox to come out and play.
  • Wayfair – Showed off how you can bring digital furniture into the real world.
  • Trimble – An engineering firm showed how ML is helping them.
  • Wacom – Showed their vision for how XR is changing the creative landscape and tools they are providing to creators for ML One.
  • Onshape – Demoing Onshape 3D using ML One, where you can immersive yourself in real-scale CAD objects such as a F1 racing car.

The Magic Leap One is much more than another mixed reality headset. It signals something different, something special, perhaps even the start of a movement. I actually feel that we – as a tech industry – we took a LEAP (sorry!) forward yesterday in that little conference centre in LA.

Interested to see what we’re working on with Magic Leap? Get in touch.

The Magic Leap One is much more than another mixed reality headset. It signals something different, something special, perhaps even the start of a movement.”

James

James is PRELOADED’s Head of Design. He is passionate about building inclusive experiences that bring people together, and which educate and entertain.