You might remember Leap Motion as the company that developed gesture controlling gizmos that have been used in keyboards, VR set-ups, and more. It's not to be confused with Magic Leap, which is the company making that bizarre-looking AR headset. Leap Motion clearly isn't letting that single shared name get in the way of its AR ambitions, though, since it's just released for a super-cheap AR headset with hand tracking.
The system is currently called Project North Star, and each headset could reportedly cost just $100 (£71) to make. It's also quite bizarre-looking in it's own right, though in a very different way than Magic Leap's design.
What's more, it'll be equipped with Leap Motion's own sensors that will let users manipulate objects with their hands - negating the need for any sort of controllers or even special gloves. The key thing to note, however, is that North Star isn't going to be released, nor is Leap Motion offering development kits.
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 headset itself comes with two 3.5-inch LCD displays that offer 1660 x 1440 resolution per eye, 120FPS framerate, and a field of view that's 95 degrees high and 70 degrees wide. Like other AR headsets, displays them reflect light onto screen that our eyes perceive as a transparent hologram. As you can see in the diagram above, the Leap Motion sensor is above the eye, and promises to track your hands over a 180-degree (horizontal and vertical) area.
This is a good thing, since it means companies hoping to build their own augmented reality systems don't necessarily have to start from scratch. Many will, just to do things completely their way, but it's definitely useful to be able to utilise Leap Motion's work if necessary. Obviously this has all been in vain if nobody else invests the time and money to develop this system themselves. That's the only factor that really matters, in the end.
But the system shows some promise, as you can see from these short videos posted by leap Motion's Keiichi Matsuda on Twitter:
more beautiful hand tracking pic.twitter.com/dZkZOFnCJ9
— Keiichi Matsuda (@keiichiban) February 28, 2018
Introducing Virtual Wearables pic.twitter.com/LPvknKBlnO
— Keiichi Matsuda (@keiichiban) March 22, 2018