First-Ever L.E.A.P. Conference Teases The Future Of Magic Leap

Magic Leap’s inaugural developer conference showcases the headsets best and brightest content.
Blood-thirsty robots, augmented board games, and life-sized space mechs were just a few of the offering at Magic Leap’s inaugural L.E.A.P. developer conference held earlier this week at the Magic Box event space in downtown Los Angeles.
The two-day conference offered visitors the chance to check out a myriad of upcoming experiences and updates for the Magic Leap One Creator Edition headset, as well as attend an impressive collection of keynote presentations lead by notable figures such as Richard Taylor, Co-Founder of Weta Workshop, John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, and Andy Serkis, actor and creator of Imaginarium Studios.
We had the opportunity to check out a healthy selection of the ambitious exhibits peppered throughout the venue; here’s a brief wrap-up on the demonstrations that wowed us the most:

CREATE 1.1 (Magic Leap Studios)
Available now via Magic Leap World, the 1.1 update to Magic Leap’s existing Project Create brings a variety of additional content to the world-building application. This includes new blocks, additional cubes, and a new interactive character.
Take the new Recorder Cube, for instance. The unique tool allows you to record and import your own sounds for you to access at anytime. So, if you’ve ever wished you could build an AR drum kit composed entirely of various goat screams, much like myself, this is your lucky day.
Magic Leap continues its love of space-themed objects with the brand new Astronaut character. There’s plenty of fun to be had as you watch the little space explorer react and interact with the world around him/her. I myself had a blast strapping the little dude to the giant sea turtle character and watching as the world’s most bizarre rodeo took place right before my very eyes.

THE NAVIGATOR (Meow Wolf)
Arguably the most physically impressive exhibit at the conference, Meow Wolf’s The Navigator put me in the cockpit of a life-size space exploration mech capable of moving entire solar system.
However, that’s just a small aspect of the massive fictional universe the team as created for the this location-based AR adventure. Throughout my 10 minutes as an intergalactic pilot, I was tasked with analyzing various quadrants of space in search of a way to save my dying planet while using the Magic Leap headset to view a vibrant universe on my dash.

However, the most interesting aspect of the experience was the total lack of combat – not something one would expect after stepping into the cockpit of a giant mech. Instead, my experience revolved entirely around exploration, puzzle-solving, and navigation using a variety of colorful touchscreen controls. Viewing the various planets with the Magic Leap One further immersed me in the experience in a way a conventional monitor couldn’t.
This is just step one for Meow Wolf, however, as the team is currently planning on a cooperative Navigator experience that would double the amount of operational mechs involved. There’s even talks of bringing a massive, three-story structure to one of their popular venues in the near future.

Air New Zealand Fact or Fantasy? (Air NZ)
A bold attempt at AR board games, Air NZ hopes Air New Zealand Fact or Fantasy will deliver enough charm to bring one of gaming’s oldest mediums into the 21st Century while simultaneously educating players on the countries natural beauty.
Using the Magic Leap One headset in conjunction with a custom 3D map of the two island nation, players can watch as the country springs to life. Whales breaching water, parachuters weaving through the various mountainous regions, even swarms of native birds that react to your movements; all of which taking place while an adorable Kiwi (a species of bird native to New Zealand) quizzes you on a variety of true/false questions regarding the gorgeous country. Players selected their answers by hovering their hand over corresponding AR buttons.
As I was presented with questions, which ranged from the nations wildlife to its popular tourist attractions, I stood and smiled as a captivating animation enhanced each inquiry. For instance, after correctly answering a question regarding New Zealand’s sea life, I watched as a massive whale pulled a Free Willy and made an impressive leap over one of the miniature islands. Each correct answer netted me a golden egg, which, after collecting the most, netted me 1st place among my disappointed colleagues.
PRESENCE OF HUMAN PERFORMANCE (Magic Leap XCap Studios)
The award for the most Blade Runner-like experience goes to Magic Leap’s XCap Studios for sending a genuine shiver down my spine during a demonstration of their Presence of Human Performance exhibit.
After being equipped with a headset I was instructed to enter an isolated room. In this living room-esque space was a wooden table with two chair set up on opposite ends. In one of the chairs (a real, physical chair) sat a young digital woman who motioned with her hand for me to sit in the chair opposite her. Upon sitting down, the character responded with joy before pointing at a real picture frame laying the table. She then pointed at a hook hanging from a real wall to my left, her right.
I followed her instructions and hung the blank white canvas on the wall. I then watched as she happily began painting a gorgeous photo with only her finger, shooting me a quick glance every so often as if expecting me to compliment her work. It was a surreal experience that, at certain points, truly had me believing I wasn’t alone in that room.

DR. GRORBORT’S INVADERS (Weta Workshop)
We covered Weta Workshop’s Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders earlier this week, but the impressive tracking and colorful visuals presented throughout my demo earned the action-packed title yet another mention.
The experience excellent use of space had me moving around the entirety of the room as I desperately tried to avoid incoming enemy fire. This was especially difficult as I often found myself distracted by the high level of detail featured on my mechanical enemies and the world they were spewing from.
Equally as impressive was the exhibition space which was designed head-to-toe with Dr. Grordbort’s old-timey aesthetic. Out-of-date-furniture, classic wallpaper, and the mounted heads of various space aliens were littered among each play space. Even the bookshelves were filled with jars of alien body parts, each of which accompanied by hand-written labels featuring their own unique stories.

While Magic Leap’s current hardware still has a long way to go before it’s capable of providing truly seamless augmented reality, the projects shown during L.E.A.P. gives hope that the company can continue to expand upon their impressive efforts.
Magic Leap One Creator Edition is available now for $2,295 with an optional Professional Developer Package also available for $495.
Image Credit: Magic Leap / Weta Workshop / Air NZ / Meow Wolf
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