Unveiling Project North Star

Unveiling Project North Star

Leap Motion is moving into the augmented reality industry, and it's bringing fresh ideas with it.

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 headset consists of two ultra-bright, 1600x1440p displays that can push up to 120 frames per second and project images that are 100 degrees in diameter within the users field of vision. The key thing to note, however, is that North Star isn't going to be released, nor is Leap Motion offering development kits. 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. 'Each eye saw digital content approximately 105° high by 75° wide with a 60 percent stereo overlap, for a combined field of view of 105° by 105° with 1,440 × 2,560 resolution per eye. Leap Motion said it tilted the view 20-degrees towards the ground, which allows the ground and your body to be within the augmented FOV.

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The system is now called Project North Star, and each headset could reportedly cost just $100 (£71) to make.

Leap Motion built the ellipsoidal reflectors out of optical-grade acrylic, and it milled them with a vibration-free diamond-tipped lathe to create a precision, "optically transparent", curved lens. Video clips show the North Star system accurately and quickly tracking the motion of an entire hand and all of its joints, as well as allowing standalone digital objects to be manipulated in 3D. Since then, though, the company has been beavering away on an augmented reality system - one it is now willing to reveal.

Instead the hardware and software will be available on an open source license sometime next week, with the company claiming it hopes 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". The existing prototype also features a top-mounted display driver, whereas the next iteration will include room for the Analogix display driver inside the device.

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