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Ludenso’s co-founder and CEO, Eirik Wahlstrøm, was kind enough to answer some questions about MagiMask — their new affordable AR device with great features. The team launched a Kickstarter campaign that has already reached its funding goal.
Our team consists of entertainment engineers from Trondheim, Norway – and we are all determined to make fun and engaging products that are easy to use. The idea of MagiMask actually started as an idea for enjoying movies in a new way – and the first step on the way was the MovieMask.
The story behind MovieMask
After watching Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight in the cinema in San Fransisco in January 2016, we were just so amazed by the cinema feeling. We then started thinking about how today’s media consumption is more and more mobile-driven. However, what we have gained in mobility, we have lost in the experience. Over the course of the next 6 months, we made around 30 prototypes that we tested on over 1000 users, before heading over to China to find production partners for our first product. We have now successfully developed three versions of the MovieMask, which we have sold and delivered over 10.000 units of to over 70 countries.
We have made quite a few prototypes (nearly hundred now) and tested a lot of other solutions
The story behind MagiMask
MovieMask was, however, never the end goal. The team and investors were driven to play a part in how we interact and engage with technology, and we believe AR is one of the technologies that will have the greatest implications in the coming decades. However, what we saw was that the majority of apps created for AR (with Googles’ AR Core, Apples’ AR Kit, Unity, and Vuforia etc.) was made for hand-held, mobile devices. Full screen. None of the existing headsets supported this, so if you wanted a mobile-driven headset where you could immerse yourself in AR, you would have to settle for a stereoscopic headset. The downside here is that the content has to be customized for the designated headset, and by splitting the screen, you lose a lot of pixels.
The solution became the MagiMask. The main idea was to connect the physical and digital world, and we saw the best form of interaction as physical. It makes it more tangible. It makes it more real. It makes it more powerful. I’ve outlined this a bit in my answer to question 4.
It’s super easy to develop games for it, and there’s a lot of content already available and playable. With MagiMask, everything that works on a phone, full-screen, will work on the MagiMask. Furthermore, we’re including a set of optimized tracker-objects, which enables you to interact with the digital world in new ways. See the image here:
Here, an action is triggered when the two cards get close to each other. And the example below shows how you by e.g. turning the cube can trigger an action.
These objects that ensure stable tracking (if developing for e.g. Unity with the Vuforia plug-in) will allow you to create your first AR apps in hours. In addition, we’ll be providing the source code for these action triggers (turning of a cube, cube close to the tile, virtual buttons, and so forth), for those developers that are keen on developing their own games for the MagiMask and MagiTools.
A lot of content is already available and playable. One of the coolest things about our product is that every app that plays in full-screen will work with our headset. We’ve attached a picture (see below) that showcases some of the apps and use cases that are ready to go for the MagiMask and MagiTools.
We wanted to create something that would work out of the box, with uncompromised usability and breathtaking design. We were of course extremely grateful to receive the Red Dot award for the design of our MovieMask, and have further improved this design for our MagiMask.
In addition, we want to point out that after testing a wide range of different user input for AR, including but not limited to voice control, Bluetooth controllers, hotspots and so forth, we realized that connecting the physical and digital world is key. It makes it tangible. It makes it easy to use. It makes it fun. That’s why we have been focusing on optimizing the MagiTools.
The tech inside is primarily the lenses, which is the key to high-resolution mobile AR (until we get 8k phones with 5G and unlimited data). I believe the following illustrations should describe it well:
As touched upon in my reply to the first answer, the big difference between the conventional stereoscopic headset and our solution is that stereoscopic headsets need to split the screen in two (left image above). In addition, most stereoscopic headsets further need the content to be in a 16:9 format/equivalent, that further reduces the resolution to 1/4 of the screen. Meaning half the pixels on the screen is wasted, and half of them is duplicated, giving the users roughly 25% of the pixels. In addition, the content will have to be customized to the designated headset, while it works out of the box for our solution.
In terms of the tracking kit, or MagiTools (MagiDice, MagiTile, and MagiCard), these objects have tracking patterns that are optimized for computer vision, ensuring stable tracking of the digital objects. This enables developers and creators to both create new games, but also to visualise any type of model, and interact with them, creating a physical link to the digital world.
The future is AR – and we want to build a community of pioneers that wants to explore it. We hope that we with our MagiMask and MagiTools will enable thousands of creators to explore, create and learn with AR, and that their creations can reach millions. There’s no doubt that our solution is not the end goal for AR, but it is a step on the way, and we hope we can utilize that stepping stone to create more awesome hardware, building on the creations that are made on the way, and shape the AR industry going forward.
We have several products and solutions on our company roadmap, but right now, we are focusing on delivering the best possible mobile AR experience, and believe our current solutions will be able to create a lot of value for many customers in the years to come.