When it finally arrives, Magic Leap’s augmented reality headset will look like the kind of thing Luke Skywalker would wear to practice his lightsaber skills, if a design patent filed by the enigmatic company this week is anything to go by. Other comparisons for the theoretical device include a fighter pilot helmet, with a large rounded surface that would sit over the forehead of the wearer, or a face-mounted jock-strap. The filing shows a product that isn’t too far from recently released VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, but where the Rift puts wearers squarely in a virtual world, Magic Leap’s headset will have vision slits so users can see their surroundings, augmenting it with overlays at varying depths.
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Magic Leap has raised a staggering $4.5 billion in multiple investment rounds, led by companies as illustrious as Google, but we’ve had to piece together much of what we know about the mysterious startup from its many patents. Even these filings aren’t much use in helping us figure out what the hell Magic Leap will actually do, covering such actions as “projecting images to a waveguide through microprojectors for augmented or virtual reality,” and “providing variable depth planes through arrays of reflectors.” Even though it was the subject of a lengthy Wired profile, the company itself hasn’t really helped clarify matters. “Your brain is like a graphics processor,” CEO Rony Abovitz said at the time “We basically tried to clone what that signal is, we made a digital version of that, and we talk to the GPU of the brain.”
Previously, we’d only seen weird shots of “photonics chips,” small panels of plastic that Wired say manage photon flow to create digital light signals, while the “whirligigs and test machines” Magic Leap have planned are yet to arrive. While there’s no guarantee the design patent will be an exact representation of Magic Leap’s finished product, this week’s filing does at least show that despite its complex rhetoric and secretive nature, the company is probably working on a headset in a similar form factor to the Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.