Leap Motion, the folks that have been spending most of its time working on hand-tracking technology for VR, is branching out into AR headsets.
The company has announced a new reference headset and AR platform it calls Project North Star. The headset has two ultra-bright 1,600 x 1,440 displays that push about 120 frames per second. The displays are also low persistence, which means that the displays turn off after each frame briefly to reduce motion blur.
Read this: Everything you need to know about AR
There's also a field of view of 100 degrees, plus Leap Motion's own 180-degree hand-tracking sensor. At the same time, Leap Motion says this platform is simple, and will cost $100 to produce at scale.
The company makes it clear that this is one giant experiment, and it hopes others take the technology and go wild with it. To that end, it has open sourced the hardware and related software. The company has also been teasing the announcement for some time on Twitter, posting videos from behind the display of its glasses.
The videos essentially showcase how Leap Motion's hand-tracking tech works in conjunction with the headset. They're also shot from behind one of the headset's displays. It's not clear whether this is an actual working unit or whether this is representative of what the headset will actually look like. Either way, the fidelity of the hand-tracking and AR is impressive.
Introducing Virtual Wearables pic.twitter.com/LPvknKBlnO
— Keiichi Matsuda (@keiichiban) March 22, 2018
As for the actual design of the headset, it looks like it combines the head strap of the PlayStation VR with the mesh windows of a beekeeper's helmet. It's a little difficult to tell whether the shields in front of the displays would obstruct your view or not, or whether they're used to project augmented reality onto the displays.
If augmented reality is to thrive, and it's really going to be a paradigm shift in how we compute, it's going to need to be available at multiple price points. The devices from the likes of Magic Leap and Apple will likely be on the high end, and it's good to know someone wants to bring affordable, good quality AR on the low end, too.
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