Gesture Interface Company Leap Motion has been working on enabling people to touch virtual reality without special gloves for the last few years, and now it is announcing its high-tech hand-tracking gesture technology to augmented reality. The system is called Project North Star, which includes a headset that costs less than $100 for large-scale production, unlike Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap’s expensive Leap One AR headsets.
The headset will be equipped with a Leap Motion sensor allowing users to manipulate objects with their hands, something that the company has already proffered for desktop and VR displays. The Project North Star is not a new item.
The headset has two “two ultra-bright, low-persistence” displays with 1,600 x 1,440 resolutions, each running at 120 frames per second. In addition, the displays reflect their light onto a visor that the user perceives as a transparent overlay. Leap Motion says this offers a field of view that’s 95 degrees high and 70 degrees wide, larger than most AR systems that exist today. The most impressive part of the headset is the built-in hand-tracking gestures; the Leap Motion sensor fits above the eyes and tracks hand motion across a far wider field of view, around 180 degrees horizontal and vertical.
The design of Project North Star could be helpful for small players who want to experiment with augmented reality hardware while requiring relatively little investment from Leap Motion itself. Hand tracking is an obvious feature for augmented and mixed reality headsets, but we haven’t seen a headset throw its full weight behind systems like Leap Motion’s, which articulate every finger separately and aim to replicate the physics of picking up and moving objects.
The company has posted some detailed videos shot through a prototype. They hope that “these designs will inspire a new generation of experimental AR systems that will shift the conversation from what an AR system should look like, to what an AR experience should feel like”.