When the Magic Leap launched earlier this summer, the reaction from the press and public was muted to say the least. Now, the team at iFixit has gotten their hands on one of the devices and done what they do best — torn it apart for posterity. The kit, they write, is like nothing they’ve reviewed before.
The Magic Leap is made up of two components. There’s the Lightpack, which is where all the computational processing happens, and the Lightwear goggles. There’s a strobing IR projector in the center of the Lightwear goggles (used for depth sensing), as well as four LEDs in each of the lenses that are used for eye tracking. The Lightwear goggles also contain the additional hardware used to track the totem controller (a small black box protrudes from the right side of the headband, containing a magnetic sensor coil).
Those who theorized that Magic Leap would use waveguide optics were proven correct — there are separate waveguides for each color channel (R,G,B) and two separate focal planes, for a total of six waveguides. Here’s iFixit’s cat-friendly demonstration of how the system works (click to enlarge).
The rest of the headset teardown is interesting, but I’ll let iFixit take it from here. What about the Lightpack, where the magic is supposed to happen? The Lightpack, erm, packs a 36.77Wh battery, powering an Nvidia Tegra X2 (Parker) SoC with two Denver CPU cores and four Cortex-A57 cores. Its GPU is Pascal-based and offers 256 CUDA cores backed up by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage.
The Lightpack only offers three hours of battery life, despite its largish lithium-ion capacity. It’s also not user-replaceable. Since the Lightwear goggles are literally attached to the Lightpack battery, it means you’ll have to replace the entire device once the battery dies unless Magic Leap announcers some kind of mail-in battery replacement program and handles the swap themselves.
The device contains a fan (made by CoolerMaster) and a great deal of glue holding it to the top of the heatsink. The image above shows the heatsink peeling away from the components underneath (the fan mounts on top).
All in all, iFixit wasn’t very impressed. While there was some use of standard screws, the entire assembly is heavily glued and difficult to access with many delicate components. Furthermore, the lack of a user-replaceable battery is a minor concern when the hardware in question cost over $2,000.
The Leap One is clearly an expensive, short-run piece of hardware. Every bit of construction is intended to maintain the precise calibration for the life of the device. Our guess would be that this was pushed out at full speed, damn the price, just to get something on the market. Let’s hope for a consumer edition that maintains the thoughtful design and dedication to durability, while also avoiding the short-sightedness of this device.
The overall score was a 3/10.