Remember Leap Motion? They are a tech startup that got going back in 2010. The Leap Motion tracking module is was (and still is) one of the most exciting and affordable hand and object tracking technologies I’ve seen. The original idea was to use it as a replacement for your mouse. You could use your hands to manipulate 3D objects or simply move the mouse pointer.
Honestly, no one cared that much, but the modern VR revolution gave the Leap Motion device a new lease on life. Front-facing mounts on VR HMDs turned it into an advanced hand-tracker and Leap had found its true calling.
Now the company is going all-in with the announcement of Project North Star, an open source AR headset with some ambitious technical specifications.
Following the North Star
The tech specs of the North Star are pretty great. It will have a 120 frame-per-second 1600×1440 panel with low persistence. The field-of-view is short of something like the Rift, but the North Star’s 100-degree FoV is certainly a step up for dedicated AR HMD. Even better, Leap Motion claims that the hand tracking field is 180-degrees wide. That sounds better than the depth-sensing cameras on the front of the Vive Pro, which reportedly only track hands in a fairly narrow band. We’ll have to wait for the final numbers before comparing anything however.
I have to say, North Star certainly looks the part of a futuristic next-generation headset. At least, I would have imagined it 10 years ago with the glossy sci-fi boom. The large waveguides (I assume) make you look like a nerdy cyborg.
Apart from the fact that this is an open source HMD just like the Google Cardboard, the other astonishing thing about the North Star is its price. Leap Motion claim that when produced at scale these headsets will cost less than a hundred bucks each to make. If they can be sold for even double that, itś going to be quite the disrupter in the AR/MR market.
Leap says that the platform is pretty much experimental at this point, but after they make the hardware and software that drives it Open Source itś expected the community will work to improve it rapidly.