Leap Motion is pioneering how users interface with menus in mixed reality

Along with advancing the idea of augmented reality “goggles” that have their own AR headset, Leap Motion may also pioneer a new way to interface with menus in its mixed reality environments. In a new demonstration of a prototype in the works, Leap showed off how its translucent user interface can be moved around, minimized, tapped, touched, and dragged wherever the user wants.

There are a number of aspects of augmented reality that still need a lot of work and experimentation. Although some standards of quality and interaction are coming together, menus are one item that nobody has quite figured out how to do just right yet. Leap Motion, best known for its VR hand trackers, is taking steps to figure this out though and its newest demo could point to a future where the headset wearer controls the interface just as much as the interface controls the augmented environment.

The system shown off in the tweet leverages Leap Motion’s prototype “Project Northstar” headset to enable virtual menus that float around the user in augmented space. We’re shown how they are translucent, to allow for a better view of the world around the user while still enjoying the information and digital functionality they provide. They won’t necessarily be in the user’s face all of the time though, as we’re shown how they can be moved to where is most appropriate in the 3D space, as well as minimized entirely in easy-to-grab locations such as on the edge of a desk.

Certain interactions with the menus were also showcased, including menus that react to motion that occurs near them, and buttons and sliders that are easily manipulated. As RoadToVR highlights, too, the fact that each menu appears to have some sort of visual weight to it should engender a more natural feel to the system in an augmented space.

Unlike some demos of augmented reality that we’ve seen in the past, Leap Motion makes it clear that there is “zero trickery” going on in this short video; everything is shot through the headset, giving us the best look we can get of what Leap Motion’s AR UI might look like in the future.

It’s all still very early stages though. Project North Star was only announced earlier this month, though it does offer an impressive feature set of low-latency, high-resolution displays and a 100-degree field of view. Leap Motion suggested production costs could be under $100 per headset when produced in high volumes.

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