FCC Documents Reveal Magic Leap Controller's Electromagnetic Spatial Tracking

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today released documents pertaining to Magic Leap’s motion controller indicating that the controller features electromagnetic 6-DoF spatial tracking. The documents may also hint at a release timeframe.

Magic Leap is supposed to be releasing its first consumer product any time now. In late 2017, following years of hype and billions in investment, the company finally revealed theMagic Leap One mixed reality headset and announced that the developer kits would ship in early 2018.

The company obviously missed its early 2018 release window, but we may not be waiting much longer.

Today, the FCC published a handful of documents pertaining to Magic Leaps motion controller, the Magic Leap Control, which should indicate that Magic Leap is finally in the late stages of product development.

The documents that the FCC published don’t reveal a lot of detail, but they give us a few tidbits of information that we weren’t previously aware of, such as the tracking system. The Magic Leap One headset features inside-out, camera-based tracking technology, which it acquired from Dacuda last year. Before today, Magic Leap hadn’t released details about the motion controller tracking system. We expected a camera-based tracking system coupled with gyro and inertial sensors like Microsoft’s motion controller system, but Magic Leaps approach has more in common with the as-yet-unreleased Sixense STEM controllers.

The FCC documents indicate that the Magic Leap Control features an electromagnetic system that “generates three orthogonal AC magnetic fields at frequencies ranging from 28.5 kHz to 42.2 kHz,” to track orientation and position in 3D space. The documents also indicate that the controller includes a Bluetooth transmitter, which is likely for pairing with the headset.

The Magic Leap Control also features a USB Type-C port for charging to the battery. It also includes a touchpad, trigger and a single button for input.

Debuting Within Three Months?

The Magic Leap documents that the FCC published also include a confidentiality request, in which Magic Leap asked the commission to keep the “Schematic Diagram” and “Block Diagram Operation Theory” documents confidential “for 180 days from the date of the Grant of Equipment Authorization” so that the company’s competitors wouldn’t gain an “unfair advantage” before it could bring the product to market. The request also indicates that Magic Leap would inform the FCC if it were to sell the product before the 180-day period expired.

It’s not surprising that Magic Leap would want its hardware details to remain confidential, but the timeline is interesting. If nothing else, it suggests that Magic Leap has serious plans to release the Magic Leap One in the coming three months. If the company is so concerned about giving its competitors an advantage, it likely won’t risk these documents seeing the light of day before the headset does. We don't know when the headset is coming, but you can bet it won't be cheap when it arrives.

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