What if you could see through walls like Superman? Beyond the tiny window of our senses, there’s a vast world that we can’t normally access. But that’s going to change. At last week’s SVVR conference, Leap Motion CTO David Holz talked about how the third generation of VR/AR devices will pipe everything from ultrasonic depth sensing to infrared night vision directly into our consciousness.

Along the way, he also shared one of our next-gen software demos, explained how the digital medium will emerge into the real world, and talked about why our kids just might be weirder than any generation in human history. Here’s a quick breakdown of the highlights:

Why hands in VR?

If virtual reality is going to be anything like physical reality, we believe that hands will be a fundamental part of the experience. Early in the talk, David shows one of our next-gen VR software demos, which is currently in development.


By pinching the index finger and thumb on each hand, you can bring virtual building blocks into existence, dynamically resizing them until setting them loose in the world. David said, “This starts to cross what I would call the uncanny valley of VR interaction. Right now, it looks like I’m just interacting with physical objects.”


Hand tracking in mobile VR

“How does input change when you go to these more mobile products? All of a sudden, the idea of having a wheel or joystick, which is awesome if you’re in your gamer den, doesn’t really make sense if you want to use your HMD on the train. If you bring a wheel on the train, you probably seem pretty crazy.”

Virtual wearable interfaces

“The trend we’re seeing is virtual wearable interfaces. You start to put the interface on people’s hands… The idea is that the interface gets carried around with you through different spaces.”



A spectrum of sensors

“We’re going to have cameras tracking eyes and hands, bodies and heads, objects, your mouth and the environment, and voice recognition. All of it’s going to come together in this crazy fusion of input modalities that basically allows totally new types of computing that are vastly more capable than before.”

Digital medium as real-world “stuff”

“Right now, when people say ‘digital,’ they mean it doesn’t look real. It doesn’t act real. It’s not a real thing. It’s this whole other separate thing that is not part of my normal experience. Over time, as all of these things come together, that really changes fundamentally. The digital medium becomes a physical material of the everyday world. Kids might say, some things are made of atoms and waves, and some things are made of bits and bytes. How we perceive the world changes at a philosophical level.”

The weirdest generation

“Human senses start to get a little weird… I’m wearing ultrasonic depth sensors and infrared cameras. I can see blood vessels under my skin, I can see in the dark. Every kid has access to night-vision 3D ultrasonic goggles. You have environmental sensors everywhere, so I can start seeing through walls.

“Our kids are going to get really weird. When I say I see something, I’m very biased to the things in the real world. Now all of a sudden, sights don’t have to be sights, sound doesn’t have to be sounds. All of these things can be remapped and interchanged. Reality in the future will mean something different than it does to us now, and the human experience is going to vastly expand. Kids won’t just play with soccer balls, they’ll play with atoms, galaxies, and quantum particles.”

Looking ahead

David wrapped up by explaining that the VR/AR landscape is changing incredibly quickly. Future generations may go as far as implanting AR devices in contact lenses, or even in the eye itself. When we get to that point, though, David will probably be one of the holdouts. “I don’t want to take my eyes out. I can’t do it! I’m an old guy!”

Where do you see our digital lives evolving over the next decade? Let us know in the comments.

Alex Colgan is the senior director of marketing and developer community at Leap Motion. By transforming how we interact with technology, he believes we can make our world feel more human.

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