Over the previous few weeks, Leap Motion has been teasing some very compelling AR interface prototypes, demonstrated on an unknown headset. Today the corporate reveals that the headset is a prototype dev package, designed in-house, providing a mixed 100 diploma subject of view, low latency, and excessive decision. Leap Motion plans to open-source the design of the machine, which they’re calling Project North Star.

Founded in 2010, Leap Motion develops main hand-tracking hardware and software program. Though their first piece of hardware was designed for desktop enter, the corporate pivoted into VR, and extra not too long ago the AR house, exploring how their hand-tracking tech can allow new and intuitive technique of interacting with digital and augmented info.

With AR hardware nonetheless in its infancy, the corporate sought to construct their very own in-house prototype AR headset, concentrating on specs far past what’s out there to customers as we speak. This was so they might design AR interfaces, based mostly on their hand monitoring tech, concentrating on the capabilities of future AR headsets. They’re calling this work Project North Star, and plan to open-source the design subsequent week, saying that such a headset may value “below $100 dollars to supply at scale.”

Image courtesy Leap Motion

The prototype headset makes use of side-mounted shows with giant ‘fowl bathtub’ model optics (just like the Meta 2 strategy), which afford the machine a 1,600 × 1,400 per-eye decision at 120 FPS, with over 100 levels of mixed subject of view, and hand-tracking from the corporate’s newest hardware which tracks at 150Hz over a 180 × 180 diploma space.

The model of Project North Star which Leap Motion plans to open-source is definitely a pared again model of an earlier prototype which boasted better specs, however was fairly a burden to put on. The crew at Leap Motion constructed this earlier model as a baseline of what may be achieved.

An earlier Project North Star prototype aimed to embody prime specs, however wasn’t very involved with type issue. | Image courtesy Leap Motion

“[…] we needed to create one thing with the best doable technical specs, after which work our approach down till we had one thing that struck a stability between efficiency and form-factor,” the corporate shared on its weblog as we speak. “[…] The vertical subject of view struck us most of all; we may now look down with our eyes, put our arms at our chests and nonetheless see augmented info overlaid on prime of our arms. This was not the minimal performance required for a compelling expertise, this was luxurious.”

With take a look at what may very well be achieved, the crew used masking tape over the lenses to crop down the sphere of view to get a really feel for the way a lot they might scale back the scale of the lenses earlier than dropping a number of the important expertise because of the decrease subject of view. Once they discovered that stability they started the method of slicing smaller optics and shrinking the headset, shifting from cellphone shows to a customized show system utilizing a pair of 3.5″ fast-switching LCD shows.

“We ended up with one thing roughly the scale of a digital actuality headset. In entire it has fewer components and preserves most of our pure subject of view. The mixture of the open air design and the transparency usually made it really feel instantly extra comfy than digital actuality methods (which was truly a bit stunning to everybody who used it),” the corporate writes. “[…] Putting this headset on, the decision, latency, and subject of view limitations of as we speak’s [AR] methods soften away and also you’re out of the blue confronted with the query that lies on the coronary heart of this endeavor: What we could construct?”

Indeed, with hardware in hand, the corporate has been specializing in that query; utilizing a wearable digicam, it was the Project North Star prototype via which Leap Motion’s VP of Design, Keiichi Matsuda, shot these tantalizing ‘digital wearable’ prototype movies which we not too long ago referred to as “a potent glimpse at the way forward for your smartphone.”

Image courtesy Leap Motion

Leap Motion says they’ve a couple of tweaks left to do earlier than open-sourcing the Project North Star design subsequent week, together with “room for enclosed sensors and electronics, higher cable administration, cleaner ergonomics and higher curves […] and help for off the shelf head-gear mounting methods.”

There’s additionally a variety of areas the place Leap Motion says that Project North Star is ripe for additional improvement:

  • Inward-facing embedded cameras for computerized and exact alignment of the augmented picture with the consumer’s eyes in addition to eye and face monitoring.
  • Head mounted ambient gentle sensors for 360 diploma lighting estimation.
  • Directional audio system close to the ears for discrete, localized audio suggestions
  • Electrochromatic coatings on the reflectors for electrically controllable variable transparency
  • Micro-actuators that transfer the shows by fractions of a millimeter to permit for variable and dynamic depth of subject based mostly on eye convergence

With the open-sourcing of the Project North Star hardware and software program, Leap Motion hopes that the design will “spawn additional endeavors that can develop into out there to the remainder of the world.”

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