Magic Leap One controller

Magic Leap One 6DoF Controller In-depth

The Magic Leap One comes with a single controller, one that doesn’t require any additional external sensors to deliver six degrees of freedom (6DoF).

6DoF, in this case, refers to the movement and rotation that this controller transmits its information to the runtime environment. It can detect forward and backward, up and down as well as right and left movements. It also can detect rotational movements, including roll, yaw, and pitch. So three translation and three orientation movements. This 6DoF is very important because it allows users to interact with virtual content more naturally like they do with their own hands. They can move and turn things around, lift up an object and put them down, etc.


Today I came across a video by James Ashley that shows the Magic Leap One 6DoF controller in action, alongside real-time position, rotation, button, gestures and touchpad details. Here, let’s take a look.

The data read out from the controller is really fast and if there is some lag, it’s probably measured by the hundreds of a second or milliseconds.

The Magic Leap One’s Control offers a way for users to interact with virtual content in a precise way. It can be used to control a paintbrush as we’ve seen in the “Create” app, to navigate and interact with UI elements like menus and buttons. It has a trigger and bumper button that can be used when playing a first-person shooter game.

This is a single controller, you don’t have the option to use two controllers and go Nintendo-style. The round trackpad can be used for more fine interaction and the small home button behind the trackpad is like a home button on your phone, it will take you to the home screen from wherever you are.

This probably reminds some of you of the Gear VR controller or the Oculus Remote controller. The controller features haptic feedback, it looks nice and I’ve heard it’s very comfortable to hold as well. The haptics is Linear Resonant Actuators (LRA) based. This means that there is a vibration motor that produces an oscillating force along a single axis using a spring. This is different than the rotational Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) solution. LRA can start and stop very quickly so they give a more realistic feeling and used in phones where you want to have that physical button like click feeling  The don’t require any external moving parts and can be implemented in small devices, like the Magic Leap One controller, smartwatches, etc. This LRA haptic solution also has a long shelf-life compared to ERM. This all explains why Magic Leap has chosen LRA haptic solution for its controller and not ERM.

This controller wasn’t designed to serve as an extension of your hands in the mixed reality environment and unlike in virtual reality, your hands are visible and you have hand recognition system that can read hand gestures. In virtual reality, your hands are obscured and the only way for you to “get your hands back” is by using advanced motion controllers and let the app reconnect you with some sort of virtual hands, depends on the app and its functionality. Having said that, in VR, some apps can just be used with a gaming controller.

Hand recognition will continue to improve, same goes to voice recognition. Those two are going to be the two most important input sources to facilitate your interaction with the virtual content.

Many say that the Magic Leap One just isn’t designed to satisfy the gaming market, at least not now. When that moment arrives, I think that we might get to see another controller might be a better fit for different types of gaming applications. This controller is just one that was designed with comfortability and general-usability in mind. It should provide most of the controls you need to interact with graphical user interfaces, and various business applications, and do that with great accuracy.

Now that your hands are free and you don’t need to hold your device, your hands actually become an important asset and can be used for interaction. Some apps will take advantage of the bundled controller, others might prefer using hand gestures instead.

Magic Leap might release another controller or allow 3rd parties to develop new types of controllers to its platform. For example, a rifle-like controller similar to the PS4 Aim Controller, one that looks like a sword base for fighting games, a glove for better haptic feedback support, etc.

Other controller specs:

  • Power: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, Up to 7.5 hours continuous use. 15-watt USB-C charger (looks good!)
  • 12-LED (RGB) ring with a diffuser

Overall, this little controller seems to be a good controller to compliment the Magic Leap One. I’m sure we’ll get to see more advanced controllers in the future, one that might be a better fit for different types of applications.

I wasn’t able to find any information about the dimensions of the Magic Leap One controller, if you know, please leave a comment below. I will also search for more information and update this page once I found more interesting information that might interest you about this controller, so stay tuned and don’t forget to follow me on social media. Cheers.