It might be low on computer wizardry this time, but those reviewing MCU films in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War may have been reminded of the jaw-dropping but probably unrealistic user interfaces Tony Stark is so fond using. While we might still be years, maybe even decades, away from such holographic UIs, one company might already be laying the foundations of that future today. Leap Motion continues teasing its augmented reality UI for its Project North Star that might let you forget the ridiculous-looking contraption you have on your head.
Leap Motion is better known for its work on hand-gesture recognition, something that is severely lacking in the AR and VR space. It isn’t, however, known at all for making headsets. But rather than wait for someone else to make one for it, Leap Motion surprised the industry earlier this month with Project North Star. While it seems to have the technical chops, wearing the AR headset makes it look like your head mutated into a cyborg insect.
It might be worth that sacrifice if North Star’s UI is anything like what the company has been teasing so far. It has previously shown off UI that “sticks to” a user’s hand and objects like a cube that can be “picked up” like a real-world object. The latest clip takes it one step further and shows “windows”, for lack of a better term, being pulled up out of thin air and pinned in that same thin air, like clipboards hanging magically.
Our Hollywood-influenced brains might already accept all of that as “natural”, but it’s an impressive feat if you think about it. There is really nothing there in the air, not even a hologram, and yet the UI knows when your hand is in front of a window and hides that part of the UI covered by the hand. At the same time, it makes no such changes when the hand is “behind” the window.
The fact that our brains might not immediately think of this trickery is perhaps a testament to Leap Motion UI’s achievement. If the company is able to turn Project North Star into a product and quickly, it would have been able to accomplish something that not even Microsoft or the still to be launched Magic Leap could. Now if only it had a nicer-looking headset.