Yesterday I was able to finally try out the Magic Leap One in London, thanks to Maximilian Doelle of Kazendi.
This was possibly the first public demo in Europe so I was quite pleased to get along to it.
Like myself Doelle has used the HoloLens extensively over the last 2 years and was the perfect person to help compare the devices.
Since we first saw the whale breaching the sports hall or the tiny elephant in the child’s hands, our expectations have been particularly high. Of course, since then we have read and seen that it is not really anything like that yet, but still my hopes were pretty high: multi-plane focussing, bigger FOV, eye tracking, smaller form-factor…
The first issue I encountered was that I had to remove my glasses as there is no room to wear them behind the device (unlike the HoloLens). Moreover, the eye tracking would not work if you had them on anyway. Still, I thought to myself, I sometimes DO use the HoloLens without my glasses and I can still see reasonably well.
Too blurry if you normally wear glasses
Wearing the ML1 without my glasses everything was too blurry, I have average short-sightedness but had to get very close to things to read text or properly see what they were. I was instantly unable to test the multi-plane focussing or eye-tracking and without getting custom lenses made for the eye insert, would not be able to use the device at all.
When demoing the device to lots of people at events, half your audience will have a bad experience or none at all. When running workshops with companies to understand what tech could help them, I would not be able to show them what their workflows could look like.
Eyes and peripheral vision occluded
The lenses are tinted to help balance the light levels in your surroundings with the graphics. The problem with this is that you can no longer retain eye contact with people as it is like they are wearing sunglasses. In business situations, this is a real limitation.
The frame of the device appears to have been designed to intentionally block your field of view beyond the waveguides so your real-world view and the augmented view, are closer to each other. This is good for helping you to focus on the area that is augmented but terrible for peripheral vision and a general feeling of not looking through goggles.
Seeing content from the other side of the device
It also is possible to see what people are looking at, if you stand in front of them, which I have not seen with the HoloLens. The waveguides appear to work in reverse projecting the same content behind the person (to the outside observer) to the same distance they see things in front of them!
The device seems mainly optimised for entertainment for one person that buys the device for themselves and gets custom lenses made (if they need glasses). Contact lenses are the best solutions for people that wear glasses but in demo situations, its no use if they are not wearing them already.
All in all, I am disappointed that for us, in enterprise XR consulting, this does not really offer a decent alternative to the HoloLens. Clients would have a lot of issues if they wanted to develop or use this device for the majority of business applications.