Ultraleap Gemini New Hand Tracking Supports Two-Hand Interactions
Ultraleap has shared a developer preview of Gemini, its fifth generation of hand tracking software that it claims considerably improves performance with the two-handed interactions. According to Ultraleap, the new hand tracking improvements now overcome a major technical hurdle in optical hand and finger detection: hand tracking for two-handed interactions.
Mixed reality glasses demand new and more natural ways of interacting with the digital content and hand tracking is a possible candidate for the computer interfaces of the future along with other forms of input such as speech, mind control and gaze.
The startup Leap Motion has been working on optical hand tracking since 2010 and has since released several generations of its software. The fourth and last generation was known as Orion and dates back to the summer of 2018. In 2019, Leap Motion teamed up with the haptics specialist Ultrahaptics. The resulting merger created the Ultraleap company.
Ultraleap is now developing a preview of the fifth generation of its hand tracking system which is known as Gemini. The naming convention based on the zodiac sign Gemini suggests what the central focus of the innovation is: the improved software can work with both hands even if the hands touch or cover one another. These two-hand interactions have so far been a major technical hurdle in the implementation of hand tracking.
According to Ultraleap, it rewrote its tracking engine “from the ground up” for the Gemini software which will now give users better flexibility and compatibility with different types of hardware and platforms. The Gemini software will also be integrated with the Varjo XR-3 and VR-3 headsets.
Overcoming a Major Hand Tracking Technical Hurdle
A major technical hurdle in the implementation of the hand tracking technology is the decreased performance seen when both hands are put in close proximity with one another. When both hands interact and touch with one another, the complexity of the hand tracking increases which ends giving unreliable results or simply partial tracking for one or both of the hands. A perfect example is the hand tracking that is found in the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 headsets which are generally reliable but gets confused easily when the two hands interact with one another.
Ultraleap claims that its Gemini software now provides “significantly better performance with two-hand interactions”. It backs up the claim with an accompanying video. You can watch the video embedded in the tweet below. The video contrasts Gemini Orion and illustrate the improvements in hand tracking.
We know reducing friction for end users unlocks enterprise use-cases. Gemini’s improved robustness means you can easily use both hands together.
It enables more natural and immersive interaction with virtual objects and new wearable menus 😎 pic.twitter.com/bfpAdd4Wz8
— Ultraleap Developers (@ultraleap_devs) January 27, 2021
Ultraleap also says that Gemini will give users “even better smoothness, pose fidelity and robustness” as well as “improved hand utilization.”
Ultraleap sees its Gemini software as robust enough to sell to businesses as a standard solution. The developer preview, for which users can register on the official website, currently supports Windows 10 in addition to the company’s own tracking hardware: the Leap Motion Controller or the built-in solution Stereo IR 170 Camera. Support for other platforms will be incorporated later.
Last September, Qualcomm had revealed that Ultraleap’s Gemini software would also be supported by the Qualcomm XR2 reference design. This will enable manufacturers of mixed reality devices with the XR2 chips to license Ultraleap hand tracking instead of developing their own solution. Thanks to the XR2 integration, hand tracking would run with the tracking cameras of the Qualcomm reference design allowing manufacturers such as Lynx to integrate Ultraleap hand tracking without having to install any special Ultraleap hardware.
Click here to read more about the Gemini Developer Preview and also sign up to test out the preview release. The preview release is only available on Windows 10 and but additional platforms will be supported in future releases.