Earlier this year, Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion joined forces to combine our expertise and create the world’s leading spatial interaction company. In today’s guest blog, Ultrahaptics CTO, co-founder and long-time Leap Motion developer Tom Carter talks about the story behind the haptic technology he invented – and why adding haptics to hand tracking is so powerful.
Building the world’s most advanced augmented reality headset isn’t exactly for beginners. But at the world’s first #BuildYourNorthStar workshop, over 20 participants built their own open-source Project North Star headsets in just 48 hours – using components now available to everyone.
Today, we’re announcing a strategic deal with Ultrahaptics that combines the two companies and solidifies our collective role as the world’s leading spatial interaction company.
Ultrahaptics is a long-time Leap Motion developer and the two companies have been working together for nearly six years. Their haptic technology creates tactile sensations in mid-air using ultrasonic waves. This deal will create a vertically integrated technology company that brings us that much closer to fully immersive, rich and physically intuitive virtual interfaces.
This will not in any way affect our unwavering support for the incredible Leap Motion community.
In fact, joining forces will not only lead to new and exciting products, but entirely new categories of technologies that could only come from deep collaboration between these teams.
Our two companies together will be more than the sum of their parts. At Leap Motion we’ve always been about breaking down the barriers between people and technology to reach the true potential of both. This announcement represents the next step in this quest, and we are honored to have you continue with us on this journey.
The future of open source augmented reality just got easier to build. Since our last major release, we’ve streamlined Project North Star even further, including improvements to the calibration system and a simplified optics assembly that 3D prints in half the time. Thanks to feedback from the developer community, we’ve focused on lower part counts, minimizing support material, and reducing the barriers to entry as much as possible. Here’s what’s new with version 3.1.
Introducing the Calibration Rig
As we discussed in our post on the North Star calibration system, small variations in the headset’s optical components affect the alignment of the left- and right-eye images. We have to compensate for this in software to produce a convergent image that minimizes eye strain.
Before we designed the calibration stand, each headset would need to have its screen positions and orientations manually compensated for in software. With the North Star calibrator, we’ve automated this step using two visible-light stereo cameras. The optimization algorithm finds the best distortion parameters automatically by comparing images inside the headset with a known reference. This means that auto-calibration can find best possible image quality within a few minutes. Check out our GitHub project for instructions on the calibration process.
Building on feedback from the developer community, we’ve made the assembly easier and faster to put together. Mechanical Update 3.1 introduces a simplified optics assembly, designated #130-000, that cuts print time in half (as well as being much sturdier).
The biggest cut in print time comes from the fact that we no longer need support material on the lateral overhangs. In addition, two parts were combined into one. This compounding effect saves an entire workday’s worth of print time!
The new assembly, #130-000, is backwards compatible with Release 3. Its components substitute #110-000 and #120-000, the optics assembly, and electronics module respectively. Check out the assembly drawings in the GitHub repo for the four parts you need!
Cutout for Power Pins
Last but not least, we’ve made a small cutout for the power pins on the driver board mount. When we received our NOA Labs driver board, we quickly noticed the interference and made the change to all the assemblies.
This change makes it easy if you’re using pins or soldered wires, either on the top or bottom.
Want to stay in the loop on the latest North Star updates? Join the discussion on Discord!
Over the past few months we’ve hit several major milestones in the development of Project North Star. At the same time, hardware hackers have built their own versions of the AR headset, with new prototypes appearing in Tokyo and New York. But the most surprising developments come from North Carolina, where a 19-year-old AR enthusiast has built multiple North Star headsets and several new demos.
Bringing new worlds to life doesn’t end with bleeding-edge software – it’s also a battle with the laws of physics. Project North Star is a compelling glimpse into the future of AR interaction and an exciting engineering challenge, with wide-FOV displays and optics that demanded a whole new calibration and distortion system.
Today we’re excited to share the latest major design update for the Leap Motion North Star headset. North Star Release 3 consolidates several months of research and insight into a new set of 3D files and drawings. Our goal with this release is to make Project North Star more inviting, less hacked together, and more reliable. The design includes more adjustments and mechanisms for a greater variety of head and facial geometries – lighter, more balanced, stiffer, and more inclusive.
Earlier this summer, we open sourced the design for Project North Star, the world’s most advanced augmented reality R&D platform. Like the first chocolate waterfall outside of Willy Wonka’s factory, now the first North Star-style headsets outside our lab have been born – in Japan.