Over the past five or so years Leap Motion has been pushing hand-tracking VR forward with its controller-free sensor. Today, though, the company is announcing a move into augmented reality with Project North Star.
Just like VR before it, AR, which projects virtual objects into the real world, has input problems right now. Many see hand-tracking as the ideal way to interact with content, and basic finger and gesture recognition can already be seen in AR kits like Microsoft’s HoloLens (though the upcoming Magic Leap One will use a remote-like controller). But the technology itself has far to go before its reliable and accurate enough to serve as fast, intuitive means of input. Project North Star intends to bring us closer to that future.
You may have seen some of North Star’s work already, like the impressive hand-based AR UI video below that made the rounds earlier this month. Viewed through an AR headset, interactive buttons appear by the side of the user’s left hand, which can be selected with a finger from the right hand. You could theoretically use the system for navigating menus, controlling video playback or more.
According to the company, North Star is an entire AR platform that involves far more than just hand-tracking. For starters, Leap Motion has built its own PC-based AR headset acting as a reference design. It features two 1600×1440 displays with 120fps and a 100 degree field in view. Of course, it also features the company’s well-known hand-tracking sensor, which can track the position of your hands and movement in your fingers with a 180 degree field of view.
Leap claims that the production cost for the device is under $100. If you don’t believe them then you’ll be able to see for yourself next week when the company makes the hardware and related software open source so that you can either make your own or adapt it. In doing this, Leap hopes to kickstart work in AR interaction and get developers thinking about how to control content just as much as they consider how that content looks.
Over the next few weeks Leap will be posting blogs detailing the development of North Star and where it hopes the project will take us.