What we just learned about the Magic Leap One's hardware

A livestreamed talk to developers gave a guided tour. Here's what we know so far.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read
Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The  Magic Leap One remains a mysterious product. The mixed-reality AR headset is slated to arrive later this year, but few people have even gotten a chance to try one. It's a little less mysterious now, but we still haven't worn it.

A talk to developers livestreamed on Twitch on Wednesday gave a lot more details, and a guided tour of the product design. 

Watch this: Magic Leap shows off its hardware, Magic Leap One

Shanna De Iullis from Magic Leap's technical marketing team wore the Magic Leap One, and pointed out features of the hardware. She didn't show any demos of what is seen through the headset, though, leading commenters during the stream to be somewhat dubious. 

The hardware was, however, turned on and a green LED lit up on the headset. "This is one of my demo units," De Iullis said. Here's what we learned.


The Magic Leap One head-on.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

It has cameras for tracking the environment, but also for taking photos (and has an LED)

The headset uses its cameras for full-room tracking and spatial awareness. But it also takes photos, and will have an LED that glows to let people know you're recording.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

There are sound holes on the side of the Light Wear headset, like the Oculus Go

Instead of headphones, the Magic Leap One headset projects sound in what's called "Sound Fields." It seems to be like the 3D spatial audio the Oculus Go uses.


Parts are swappable.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

You can swap some parts for fit, and it comes in two sizes... but won't work with glasses

The headset has a "brow piece" that can be swapped, several nose pieces, will be made in two sizes for head fit, and will work with prescription lenses that can be ordered separately and popped in. That's because the Magic Leap One won't work with regular glasses. That's a big letdown, compared to existing VR headsets and even the Microsoft HoloLens .

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The headset is apparently worn like this

It looks like it's facing downwards, doesn't it? Apparently that's a good fit for the Magic Leap One. When starting the headset up, a tutorial will run through fit and eye calibration.


Don't put this on your belt, or fully in your pocket.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The clip-on Light Pack computer isn't made for belts... or full pocket immersion

There's a required, wired round puck that makes the Magic Leap One work, and it's a full PC. In fact, it's vented and needs to be exposed to air. According to the Magic Leap team, the puck is designed to clip onto a pocket, but not a belt (too heavy?). And definitely do not stick the whole thing in an unvented pocket: it has a thermal exhaust. 

The Light Pack has USB-C, volume buttons, a headphone jack and can be plugged directly into a computer for programming. It connects with Wi-Fi only, or Bluetooth for peripherals. A rainbow arc of LED lights will fill up when the device is booting up. Battery life is claimed to be "several hours."


The controller's trackpad has glowing LEDs.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The included controller has haptics, but its trackpad also glows

Because this headset is AR, not VR, you can see your controller. Magic Leap's six-degrees-of-freedom controller will have glowing LED markers on its touchpad to indicate where to click in apps (it can be programmed). There's a trigger and bumper on the bottom, and the single button on top is like a home button.

It'll work with multiplayer

Several people in the same space can wear Magic Leaps at once, but more details weren't discussed. How will avatar interaction work, for instance?

It's made for indoor use, not outdoor

The next version might be made for outside, but for now it's made to be an inside gadget. Hence Wi-Fi, and no cellular. Maybe that also has to do with how bright the display is, or how the cameras track in bright light.

Watch this: Magic Leap announces mixed-reality headset

Specs? Demo? Nope.

There were no detailed specs, and no full demo of the actual AR gameplay. "We are working on that," Noon said in response to requests for an actual demo stream of the experience. 

The Magic Leap One will create 3D augmented reality that feels holographic: It's a standalone headset in the spirit of the Microsoft HoloLens, but promising more advanced light field technology.

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Meanwhile, you can play VR at Dave & Buster's: Grab a beer, go check out the holodeck.

It's time to break up with VR: It feels like we've hit a brick wall.