Magic Leap 2 headset offers wider view to a narrower audience
Magic Leap has a new version of its augmented reality headset, this time specifically targeted toward enterprise use, particularly in medical, manufacturing and public sector settings.
Between the lines: The company was initially hoping to sell a consumer product but, like others in the VR and AR space, it realized that its product was still too expensive and bulky for mainstream consumers.
As part of its business pivot, Magic Leap significantly cut its staff and brought in Peggy Johnson, a veteran Microsoft and Qualcomm executive, to help lead the transformation. Last year, it also raised $500 million from existing investors.
- "We feel very strongly we have the right focus and the right product," Johnson said in an interview with Axios this week.
- Johnson compared the AR market today to the early days of the mobile phone market, when bulky devices used by professionals paved the way for sleeker, less expensive devices for the masses.
Details: The Magic Leap 2, like its predecessor, pairs a steampunk-inspired headset with a computer pack. This time around, though, Magic Leap is using open-source Android rather than a custom OS, and has switched from an Nvidia processor to a semi-custom AMD chip.
- The biggest changes are a significantly wider field of view and sharper display resolution.
- Early devices are in the hands of a few customers, with wider testing expected in the coming months.
- Magic Leap isn't announcing exact pricing, but Johnson said the new model will be slightly more costly than its predecessor but still "very competitively priced."
Hands-on: In a briefing this week, I had a chance to spend a little time with the new headset and experience several demos.
- One noteworthy new feature is "selective dimming," which allows the headset to adjust how translucent its digital images appear.
- Text appears to be more readable, too. I say appears, because while Magic Leap 2 supports prescription lens inserts, the company didn't have any sample lenses strong enough for my profound nearsightedness.
What's next: Julie Larson-Green, a Microsoft veteran who Johnson recruited to be Magic Leap's CTO, told me the company is already exploring what it can do with future devices. "We can double the field of view again," she said.