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

Hands-on with Magic Leap’s latest spatial computing experience at SIGGRAPH 2019.

This year’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, currently taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, features no shortage of VR and AR technology. Whether it be the Immersive Pavilion or the VR Theater, XR is dominating the show floor this year, offering attendees an exclusive look at a wide range of bleeding-edge immersive technologies.

Among this year’s exciting offerings is a brand new augmented reality experience from Magic Leap entitled 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 complex coral structures.

We recently had the chance to go hands-on with the full Undersea experience while at SIGGRAPH, and it’s safe to say our time with the visually-impressive experience now has us even more excited for the future of spatial computing technology.

Upon entering the companies demo space 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.

Image Credit: Magic Leap

After selecting a vast trench-like environment, the demo area instantly transformed into my own personal underwater paradise, complete with a complex coral reef that sat dead center of the room. Upon closer inspection of the structure, I began to notice all the minute details included as part 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 to 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 my interactions with the digital sea life.

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 them away or move guide them in certain directions. Some of the friendlier critters would even cuddle inside the palm of my hand; a moment that translated surprisingly well in AR.

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. 

Image Credit: Magic Leap

While the Magic Leap One has received mixed reception since its launch back in August 2018, experiences such as Undersea paint an exciting picture for the future of AR and spatial computing technology. While it’s unlikely Undersea will be receiving any major awards in the future, it’s still an impressive upgrade from Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders and an excellent representation of Magic Leap’s spatial computing technology.

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

Undersea is available for download now on Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets via the Magic Leap World Store. Several users have reported difficulties locating the app in-store; a Magic Leap team member has since posted a solution via Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Magic Leap

About the Scout

Kyle Melnick

Kyle is a writer for VRScout also working in new media production. He's also a part-time bounty hunter.

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