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A high-performance stereo IR camera module with gold-standard hand tracking for AR/VR/XR applications

Ultraleap’s Stereo IR 170 Camera Module enables incredible 3D hand-gesture recognition in conjunction with world-leading software to enable the seamless integration of a user’s hands into digital worlds for interaction with AR/VR/XR content. Such technology is perfect for applications where mid-air gestures are preferred, such as in medical settings, but it can also be used to augment HMIs in automotive, entertainment, and customer-service settings.

Image data is captured using 850 nm light pulses synchronised to two 90-fps IR cameras, and Ultraleap’s Interaction Engine quickly and accurately interprets every subtlety of natural hand movements, discerning 27 distinct hand elements, including bones and joints, and tracking them even when they are obscured to the cameras by other parts of the hand. Grabbing, swiping, pushing, pinching – all gestures – become as effortless as they are in the real world.

The latest iteration of Ultraleap’s camera module is an improvement on its predecessors, with a wider field of view (170° × 170° typ., 160° × 160° min.), longer tracking range (10 cm to 75 cm typ., 1 m max.), slimmer form factor, and lower power consumption, providing a wider variety of possible gestures in a sleeker end-device form factor. The module is suitable for ambient operating temperatures of 0°C to 40°C (0°C to 50°C outside a case), and the nominal dimensions of the bare board for integration are 105 x 10 x 7.7 mm.

To test this technology, Ultraleap provides an evaluation kit that includes the IR 170 camera module mounted in a plastic housing with a USB header for easy plug-and-play evaluation of hand tracking. This device operates on 5 VDC via the USB connector (minimum 0.5 A) with a slightly larger nominal size of 145 x 18.6 x 11.1 mm when compared to the bare board. The provided software, to be hosted on a Windows system at the time of this writing, allows for full testing of Ultraleap’s AR/VR/XR integration capabilities before designing the Stereo IR 170 Camera Module into your end device.

Ultraleap’s module is a very interesting affair as things like the metaverse graduate from the realms of science fiction, and I think it’s worth having a look at the demo videos if you want to see it in action. That said, there is a very odd CGI cat anatomy demo, and I’m still deciding whether it is hilarious or disturbing. Don’t worry; it’s still cartoony – Perhaps we’ll do a poll… Ultraleap are also leading the way with mid-air haptics in conjunction with this hand-tracking technology – I believe it uses ultrasound – so I’m sure there will be another post on that as soon as evaluation platforms become available. We’re in the future now, folks!

Keep designing!

(Image sourced from Ultraleap)

Ultraleap Stereo IR 170 Camera Module Evaluation Kit

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