Magic Leap Launches SDK, But Will Developers Flock to Create Content?

A render of the new Magic Leap One VR / AR goggles

Count Magic Leap among the companies releasing free SDKs to AR app developers.

Joining the ranks of Google’s ARCore, Facebook’s AR Studio, and Apple’s ARKit, Magic Leap has unveiled its SDK (by Lumin) and Creator Portal for the new Magic Leap One, offering third-party developers yet another platform to create augmented reality content. Magic Leap, which has commenced with a “technical preview” of the new SDK, hopes to lure developers over to the Magic Leap One, an AR hardware device that is slated for a 2018 release.

It’s exciting news for the advancement of AR technology, as the Magic Leap One headset, which CEO Rony Abovitz expects to retail near the same price as a "higher-end mobile phone to higher-end tablet,", has major implications on augmented reality and VR. And while developers are bound to embrace the new SDK and platform, it’s still unclear how Magic Leap, along with its expensive hardware, will compete with mobile-based AR tech.

“Until there is a crowned winner of the AR race, all third-party and independent developers should totally embrace any and all platforms. We still have a long way to go,” explains Ryan Isbell, CEO and founder of Possible Reality. “Although it is easier to develop for just a single device, most developers do not think that way, as it would limit users to just one platform. Right now developers are trying to make their product available on all devices.”

Isbell, who foresees “price and acquisition” hurdles for the Magic Leap One, comments that “mobile apps are for smartphones and tablets that most of the population already owns. When consumers are already spending close to $1,000 on their smartphones, there won’t be a huge rush to go spend another $1,500, or possibly more, on an AR headset that is tethered to a small computer that fits on your waist.”

Despite such an expensive and bulky barrier to entry, Isbell and Possible Reality still intend to develop content with the Magic Leap SDK, especially in regards to photo-realistic avatar creation; however, like other emerging AR platforms, the Magic Leap One, and its success, will largely be attributed to how much content industry leaders and developers can create for the new product, which has yet to hit the open market.

“Magic Leap has been promising cool stuff for awhile now, but my guess is that they’re waiting for content to be built,” offers Isbell, who is currently preparing Possible Reality for alpha testing of its INTARACT app in the second quarter of 2018. “They recently just announced the Creator Portal for a product that doesn’t exist on the market yet ... it will be interesting to see what it can do.”

Until there is a crowned winner of the AR race, all third-party and independent developers should totally embrace any and all platforms.
— Ryan Isbell, CEO Possible Reality

Perhaps of even greater interest than the release of the Magic Leap SDK and Creator Portal is the accompanying announcement of Magic Leap World, an AR and VR marketplace that has the potential to open new e-commerce doors for developers looking to monetize products.

Currently developing their own proprietary marketplace for the INTARACT app, which allows users to customize life-like avatars with product upgrades from third-party businesses, Possible Reality still hopes to offer its products through Magic Leap World, much like it intends to utilize Microsoft’s official avatar store, which is set to open in 2018.

The arrival of these virtual marketplaces is an added incentive for developers like Isbell and companies like Possible Reality, who can gain notoriety by developing content for third-party platforms while creating their own AR and e-commerce infrastructure.

Viewing Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros' science fiction world through the Magic Leap One


“It’s hard to determine Magic Leap’s impact on the virtual marketplace when they still have yet to release a product, but similar products like Steam for HTC or Vive for Oculus have found success in their respective marketplaces where users can shop and purchase games for their device,” explains Isbell. “With INTARACT, our marketplace will be for games and avatar clothing and accessories. Distribution will be as easy as ordering from Amazon, with social media account linking to update all purchases across all linked social and gaming accounts.”

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