Last year Leap Motion, makers of hand-tracking technology, revealed Project North Star, an open-source AR headset prototype design meant to be a test bed for the kind of specs and features that more compact AR headsets will hopefully one day provide. This week the company revealed ‘Release 3’ of the headset which further refines the open-source design with the goal of making it “more inviting, less hacked together, and more reliable.”

The Project North Star headset is bulky and largely impractical as a real product in its current form, but it’s designed primarily to be a platform that developers can use to experiment with the AR specs and features of tomorrow, today. Specifically, North Star offers a combined 100 degree field of view, 1,600 × 1,400 per-eye resolution at 120 FPS, and of course the company’s optical hand-tracking tech for input—far exceeding any standalone AR headset on the market today.

Leap Motion 'Virtual Wearable' AR Prototype is a Potent Glimpse at the Future of Your Smartphone

The latest update to the project, ‘Release 3’, was revealed this week offering a major design update which brings together “several months of research and insight into a new set of 3D files and drawings,” writes Leap Motion’s Florian Maurer. The updated design can be found at the Project North Star GitHub.

An overview of Project North Star Release 3 mechanical improvements | Image courtesy Leap Motion

The major changes are ergonomic and mechanical; Leap Motion says that the latest design allows the head-mount and optics to self-align between the face and the forehead independently for a better fit. The headset can now also accomodate glasses.

Image courtesy Leap Motion

Stability has been improved as well, the company says, with a new mechanism to control the optics bracket so that it doesn’t move when not intended (like when looking downward). And while the original release of the headset’s optical design was made with a 25cm focal distance in mind, a newly available display mount design allows for a 75cm focal distance to better suit content that’s built to be further away from the user.

While putting together your own North Star headset isn’t for the faint of heart, there are indeed talented tinkerers out there building the headset and even experimenting with their own variations, like this effort which includes flip-up and quick-disconnect functionality:

While Project North Star offers an interesting playground for developers, it’ll take new and novel technologies to deliver North Star’s vision of future AR features and specs in a compact and affordable package.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • oompah

    No reference design????

    • Engineer_92

      It is the reference design technically

  • dk

    awesome 120fps

  • Xron

    Looks like … so they want us to use it as a car window?
    Specs seem to be nice for todays Ar, though not sure why do they use such a high refresh rate, do they have performance to spare..?

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Leap has always brought forth a great and innovative product.Affordable and extremely tech savvy.Glad they are gonna hit the industry with a headset.

  • NooYawker

    I keep thinking Magic Leap when I hear Leap Motion.

    • jj

      and they couldn’t be more different.
      Leap motion shows awesome tech theyve already made
      Magic leap gets people to believe in lies. :)

  • brandon9271

    Reminds me of Judge Dredd

  • Proof XR Lab

    to misquote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced bullshit is indistinguishable from magic.”

  • I still think that until someone makes a product out of this, this will just be a toy for few makers

  • Lucidfeuer

    I wish Leap Motion would focus on being an actual OEM or making practical products like the first Leap Motion was. They’re just burning money with this.

  • JustNiz

    Yeah and it doesn’t make you look like a giant nerd at all. Honest. Jeez guys just go with something like this already.