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.
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.
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.
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:
— 山浦博志 (@yamaulab) January 12, 2019
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.