Leap Motion shows off cheap experimental augmented reality headset

Software firm has published details of its work on an AR headset and interface controlled by hand movement.

Press Association
Last updated: 11 April 2018 - 10.05am

Motion gesture software firm Leap Motion has shown off early plans for an augmented reality platform built around its hand-tracking technology.

The US firm has revealed details of concept augmented reality hardware and software that is navigated using hand gestures, which it calls Project North Star.

[Read more: Motion control - explained]

In a pair of blog posts on the Leap Motion website, company co-founder and chief technology officer David Holz revealed how the firm had built a prototype AR headset to test out its platform.

 

The company built a prototype of what it calls “augmented reality glasses from the future” on which to run experiments of hand-tracking technology.

Mr Holz said the firm had been able to do this relatively cheaply, claiming Leap Motion’s headset would cost “under 100 dollars” to mass produce, suggesting wider implementation of the technology is within reach, even if Leap Motion has no plans to manufacture headsets.

He said the hardware and software will be made available open source next week in the hope it will encourage others to get involved.

The company’s vice president of design, Keiichi Matsuda, has been tweeting some of the firm’s work on the software.

One short clip showed a virtual interface extending out of a hand which he called a “virtual wearable”.

Mr Holz said the company was focused on creating “human-computer interfaces” that blur the line between the digital and physical.

“We believe that the fundamental limit in technology is not its size or its cost or its speed, but how we interact with it,” he said.

“These interactions define what we create, how we learn, how we communicate with each other. It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that the way we interact with the world around us is perhaps the very fabric of the human experience.

“We believe that this human experience is on the precipice of a great change.

“The coming of virtual reality has signalled a great moment in the history of our civilisation. We have found in ourselves the ability to break down the very substrate of reality and create ones anew, entirely of our own design and of our own imaginations.

“As we explore this newfound ability, it becomes increasingly clear that this power will not be limited to some ‘virtual world’ separate from our own. It will spill out like a great flood, uniting what has been held apart for so long: our digital and physical realities.”

The company said it wants to look into what an AR experience should feel like, rather than what the system behind it should look like.

Virtual and augmented reality headsets are already widely available through the likes of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens, but Leap Motion says it hopes to help move hand-tracking technology forward by publishing its work and potentially bringing it to existing hardware systems.

Read more: What is mixed reality? We explain it all

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