With many office workers in the US being asked to work from home if their job allows, Magic Leap’s customary updates for the Lumin OS and Lumin SDK brings some help to keep distributed workforces connected.
Chief among the new features arriving with Lumin OS version 0.98.10 and Lumin SDK 0.24 is a new Meetings feature that enables local and remote collaboration with 2D and 3D files.
However, before we unpack those new features, perhaps the most exciting new introduction in this releases is an early preview of Magic Leap’s flavor of the AR cloud dubbed the Magicverse.
AR cloud is a category of AR platforms that leverage computer vision and spatial mapping to enable next-generation AR experiences, such as multi-user support, persistent content, and advanced features like real-world occlusion. Apple and Google have added AR cloud features to their respective ARKit and ARCore mobile toolkits over the past few years, while Ubiquity6 and 6D.ai have rolled out their own AR cloud platforms and Niantic is preparing a wider launch of its own version.
Now, after talking about the Magicverse in various public forums from LEAP Conference to the Future Investment Initiative, Magic Leap has finally released the first public preview of the Magicverse SDK for building multi-user experiences that are anchored persistently in the physical realm and accessible via Magic Leap 1 headsets as well as mobile devices.
Magicverse builds off of existing capabilities of Magic Leap hardware and software, particularly spatial mapping through Magic Leap 1, anchoring content across multiple platforms through Persistent Coordinate Frames (PCFs), and deploying experiences in Magic Leap World (though Magic Leap is working on new ways for uses to discover Magicverse experiences in the real world).
The first component of the Magicverse SDK is XR Kit, which brings tools and libraries for developers to build Magicverse experiences that work on iOS and Android, too. XR Kit enables mobile apps to work with PCFs so that users across devices can join interact with the same content. Available as a separate download from the Lumin SDK, XR Kit natively supports iOS and Android as well as Unity and MagicScript. At launch, XR Kit is also compatible with Unreal Engine 4, with Android support arriving at a later date.
“Bridging the digital and physical worlds is the stuff of science fiction. As technologists, we’ve imagined hundreds of different futures that connect the ways we interact in the physical world with the ways we interact online,” said Yannick Pellet, senior vice president of software of Magic Leap, in a blog post. “At Magic Leap, we believe the Magicverse can leverage the benefits of spatial content when and where we need it while allowing us to keep our heads up and stay present in the real world with those around us. We’ve invested heavily in understanding what technologies we need to develop to make that vision a reality.”
For users interested in getting a start in the Magicverse, a new app from Magic Leap Studios called Pancake Pals is available via the Magic Leap World app store. Alas, the game, which entails flipping pancakes with smiley faces on them, is not available for iOS or Android users yet.
Back to Lumin OS 0.98, the new Meetings functionality expands on the remote collaboration features available through Avatar Chat and Casting features. Available as a beta version, Meetings enables multiple local and remote participants to annotate and manipulate 2D images and 3D models from the Gallery app. Moreover, an Outfit app allows users to personalize their virtual avatar used in Meetings.
For sharing between local colleagues, Lumin OS also has a new method for inviting others into a multi-user experience called Meeting by Code. Similar to initiating AirPlay in Apple’s ecosystem, Meeting by Code shares a four-digit code that other users can employ to enter the experience.
On the enterprise end, Magic Leap is bridging the gap between Magic Leap 1 and desktop computers. Lumin OS is gaining the new Desktop Companion App (DCA), which enables desktop users to share files and 3D content to a Magic Leap headset. In conjunction with the app, Lumin SDK 0.24 has new APIs for developers to build DCA compatibility into their apps.
Over in the Helio browser, Magic Leap has rolled out streaming video support for services, with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and AT&T TV Now among the cited examples. Users can also lay Helio browser windows flat on a horizontal surface, which makes total sense for maps and such.
Magic Leap has also added enhancements to voice and gesture control, improved spatial mapping, and revamped the UI of Magic Leap World to take advantage of the spatial computing paradigm.
However, the Meetings beta launch and Magicverse SDK technical preview are particularly timely. There’s no telling how long self-quarantining will be the new normal, and Meetings is particularly convenient for helping Magic Leap 1 users stay connected. Moreover, now that developers can get started building apps that span across spaces and devices, this update could bring more opportunities to bridge social distances.