A Spatial Computing Case Study : Jabil and Magic Leap

Augmented reality is not a new concept. The technology has brought sweeping excitement to gaming and entertainment in the consumer space. It also has promising potential for business applications. In fact, healthcare, manufacturing and military industries are likely to feel the biggest impact from the technology, according to Jabil’s 2018 Augmented and Virtual Reality Trends Survey. The global market for augmented and virtual reality is expected to exceed more than $117 billion by 2024, predicts MarketWatch.     

While the market is experiencing unprecedented growth, new technology innovations are pushing the limits of what is possible. Spatial computing, for example, is opening doors to better and more realistic augmented reality experiences.  

“Spatial computing allows digital content to blend seamlessly into the physical world around you,” explains Daniel Diez, chief marketing and communications officer at Magic Leap. 

Spatial computing, as explained by Magic Leap, can be used to show items viewed online while shopping at a physical store, upskill workers at a faster pace or superimpose directions and guidance while exploring a new city.  

“Computing has been evolving for decades—all of which has operated behind screens,” says Omar Kahn, chief product officer at Magic Leap. “We’re delivering all of the power of the next generation of computing from an AI, productivity and entertainment perspective but without a screen.” 

“Instead of staring at a tiny screen, you’re looking up and around, as the content exists in the world where it’s most relevant at that moment in time. The digital content augments an experience, making it better in some way by meshing digital and physical together,” adds Diez.   

Bringing this technology to life takes the latest advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), spatial light modulation, optics, sensors, projection systems and precision mechanics. In addition to these challenges, there were no optimized technology roadmaps for building a spatial computer. So, Magic Leap turned to Jabil.

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Capabilities Bring Vision to the Product   

An immersive experience can’t be delivered without top-notch optical technology. Magic Leap provides its game-changing spatial computing experiences using a head-mounted digital light-field display (called Lightwear) and a portable Lightpack sensing and computing device that holds the headset’s processors. A small, one-handed Control includes buttons, a touchpad and motion control capabilities.  

“One of the things we founded the company on was making sure the light-field could be consumed by the user in a very natural way,” says Paul Greco, senior vice president, hardware engineering & programs at Magic Leap.   

That's where Magic Leap's volumetric view comes in.  

The volumetric view displays visual representations of objects in three dimensions, with an almost 360-degree spherical viewing angle in which the image changes as the viewer moves around. By delivering content via wide view for the digital light-field to allow the display of volumetric content, Magic Leap creates a truly immersive experience.  

The digital soundfield used to display the volumetric view is responsible for creating digital sounds in the 360-degree view. In the natural world, sounds draw your attention to where you should look. The soundfield effectively extends the light-field volumetric view by drawing your attention towards digital content. The soundfield and light-field work together to create the experience. 

The right implementation of optical technology is vital in creating an immersive experience through spatial computing. However, Magic Leap did face some daunting optical challenges, especially in addressing the optics that feed the light-field. Specifically, the team needed expertise with the custom sensors required for mapping and tracking the environment.  

“It’s not easy as this is brand new technology,” said Diez. “We’re inventing new things every day.”  

Magic Leap needed a company with proven, advanced optical capabilities in order to drive the delivery of one-stop solutions from initial device design to precision mass production.  

Jabil’s industry-leading process and test development, tooling and precision mechanics, highly automated production processes, product development plans and Supply Chain Orchestration would lead Magic Leap to success with their product launch.  

Keeping the Pace with Product Development and Delivery    

Another challenge that Magic Leap ran into was finding a partner that could apply flexible processes to turn over complex optical electrical systems quickly. Devices must have enough processing power to support immersive, real-time AR. Since augmented reality is a high-volume experience, it needs the right match in power and memory.   

Magic Leap leverages Jabil’s Intelligent Digital Supply Chain (IDSC) to gain real-time insights into events that could impact parts availability or pricing. As a result, the Magic Leap team can make better decisions while taking advantage of a much more mature supply chain than could feasibly be built as a startup. 

Because of the insights made available, Jabil made an important investment in a new production facility. A full-scale production facility was up and running with surface-mount technology (SMT) and assembly lines, as well as optical test capabilities and stringent quality control processes.    

“They helped pull all these different operations and organization together with a singular focus that we’re going to essentially bring what was impossible five minutes ago to market today,” says Lonnie Bernardoni, corporate vice president of supply chain at Magic Leap. 

The Future of Spatial Computing in Augmented Reality  

To deliver quality AR experiences, companies will need to invest heavily in edge computing frameworks that help them deliver content to end users with minimal latency. While 5G technology will help enhance AR functionality, the interactive nature of augmented reality devices will force many companies to rethink their overly centralized cloud computing networks in order to deliver content faster and gather data more efficiently.   

According to the Jabil survey, 89 percent of companies already expect vendors to help meet AR/VR requirements—from developing plans to full manufacturing capabilities. By leveraging outside AR/VR talent and technology, companies can focus on their core strengths while also delivering an out-of-this-world, immersive experience.  

The future of spatial computing in augmented reality is strong. Magic Leap and Jabil are working on a plethora of innovative applications, such as entertainment, productivity, collaboration and 3D visualization.   

Spatial computing will virtually un-limit computing power for addressing big data storage, sharing and processing. Our reality will soon integrate with a digital reality, enabling observation, data, models, problems and real-life scenarios.   

Before we know it, these products will be an integral part of businesses everywhere. They will change the way we think, collaborate and conduct work. How will your company prepare for the future of spatial computing? 

Magic Leap Case Study

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