The Magic Leap One Creator Edition augmented reality headset will be sold through three AT&T stores from April, for its current retail price of $2,295.
Magic Leap has been selling the device directly through its own website since August 2018, for the same price charged by AT&T. But the move into brick-and-mortar stores (as well as being available through AT&T's website) will give the headset a dose of public attention.
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The move also means visitors to the three AT&T stores chosen to stock Magic Leap will be able to try out the augmented reality system before deciding to part with their cash.
The Magic Leap will be available to buy from April 1 at the Boylston AT&T store in Boston, followed by the Michigan Avenue store in Chicago on April 3, and the 1 Powell outlet in San Francisco from April 6.
But, despite the tie-up with a cell company, the version of Magic Leap sold by AT&T will only have support for Wi-Fi, not cellular. This technology is on the horizon, however, as AT&T is planning to install a 5G test network at Magic Leap's Florida headquarters later in 2019. The company will use this to figure out how augmented reality will work over 5G.
Given its far lower latency than 4G (one millisecond as opposed to 50), 5G is poised to make mobile virtual and augmented reality possible. Lower latency is key to ensure the user interface reacts immediately to their movements; the higher (slower) latency of 4G would cause too much lag to make AR and VR work properly. The long-term plan is to have the second-generation Magic Leap work with AT&T's 5G network.
Visitors to the three AT&T stores stocking Magic Leap will be able to try out a Game of Thrones demonstration offered exclusively by the cell company, which owns HBO, the network broadcasting the final season of Game of Thrones from April 14.
An investor in Magic Leap, AT&T also plans to produce an app for the Magic Leap called DirecTV Now, which will let users watch up to four on-demand video streams at once. The idea is wearers can 'pin' these videos to different locations in the Magic Leap's augmented reality interface.
Albeit a very small presence, bringing Magic Leap to retail stores will help raise the profile of augmented reality among the general public, who may not be aware of Magic Leap, or AR technology generally.
Not intended as a consumer product (at least for now), the One Creator Edition is for developers to buy and experiment with, building augmented reality (AR) software and experiences. That said, there is nothing stopping a particularly deep-pocketed consumer from walking into an AT&T store and buying the headset. Magic Leap has previously said it hopes future consumer-friendly versions will cost about the price of a high-end smartphone.
Despite keeping its product a closely-guarded secret until last summer, Magic Leap has earned a huge amount of investor cash to keep its mixed reality dreams alive. Since being founded in 2010, the company has earned at least $2.3 billion in investment from companies including Google, JP Morgan and Alibaba — a sum almost equal to the $2.4 billion NASA plans to spend on sending a rover to Mars in 2020.