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Exploring An AR Coral Reef Bursting With Life In Magic Leap’s ‘Undersea’, Available Now


We went hands-on with Magic Leap’s latest spatial computing experience at SIGGRAPH 2019.

This year’s annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference features no shortage of VR and AR technology. Whether it be the Immersive Pavilion or the VR Theater, XR is absolutely dominating the show floor this year, offering attendees a behind-the-scenes look at a wide range of bleeding-edge immersive technologies.

Among this year’s impressive offerings was a brand new augmented reality experience from the Magic Leap team, Undersea. Available today via the Magic Leap World Store, Undersea harnesses the power of Unreal Engine 4 and Vulcan 3.1 mobile technology to create a photo-realistic AR environment featuring a variety of life-like sea critters and coral structures. 

We recently had the chance to go hands-on with the full Undersea experience at SIGGRAPH, and our time with the visually-impressive experience has us excited for the future of spatial computing technology. 

Upon entering the companies demo space—a small area similar to that of a simple living room—and donning a Magic Leap One Creator Edition headset, I was first tasked with choosing from a selection of underwater ecosystems in which to explore.

Exploring An AR Coral Reef Bursting With Life In Magic Leap’s ‘Undersea’, Available Now 1
Image Credit: Magic Leap

After selecting a beautiful trench environment, the demo area instantly transformed into an underwater paradise, including a complex coral reef sitting dead center of the room. Upon closer inspection, I began to notice all the minute details of the experience, from the eclectic textures featured on the different coral plants, to the variety of sea life floating effortlessly throughout the space.

On the wall of the demo area was a portal, similar to that of the one featured in Dr. Grorbort’s Invaders; only instead of being greeted by a band of murderous robots, I was presented with a window into a vast undersea environment. The true magic of the experience, however, came during the interactions with the exotic digital sea life. 

Exploring An AR Coral Reef Bursting With Life In Magic Leap’s ‘Undersea’, Available Now 2
Image Credit: Magic Leap

Using the Magic Leap’s gesture-tracking technology, I was able to naturally interact with the various sea critters populating the virtual coral reef. Depending on which fish I interacted with, I could scare creatures away and move them in certain directions; some of the friendlier critters even decided to cuddle inside the palm of my hand, a moment I found surprisingly adorable.

Each of these interactions triggered dynamic audio cues, although it was difficult to discern exactly which sound corresponded to which action. When there were no fish to play with, I found myself simply waving my hands through the air to create a stream of bubbles; a small, but memorable detail. 

Exploring An AR Coral Reef Bursting With Life In Magic Leap’s ‘Undersea’, Available Now 3
Image Credit: Magic Leap

While the Magic Leap One has received mixed reception since its launch back in August of 2018, experiences like Undersea paint an incredible exciting picture for the future of AR and spatial computing technology. While it’s likely Undersea won’t be receiving any major awards in the near future, it’s an impressive upgrade from Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders and an excellent representation of the headsets spatial computing potential.

While speaking with Dan Lehrich, VP of Production at Magic Leap, the production director teased several new improvements potentially on the way to Undersea, including human occlusion capabilities, which would allow the headset to recognize where digital objects are in relation to the user. 

Undersea is available to download now on Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets via the Magic Leap World Store.

Featured Image Credit: Magic Leap

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