Hand tracking technology company Leap Motion has built a stunningly fluid augmented reality ping-pong game that not only showcases the capabilities of its open source Project North Star augmented reality headset, but also demonstrates how artificial intelligence can elevate immersive experiences.
With the Project North Star headset, handheld paddle controller, and an actual table tennis table, players can hit a virtual ping-pong ball and play against an AI opponent. As seen in demo videos shared by Leap Motion, the physics in the game are highly realistic as the virtual ball bounces off the paddles and table.
The game is more than a leisurely distraction. It also displays flight paths and in-game guidance to train players on form. Using parabolic equations of motion, the game can predict the trajectory of a ball, giving players a better understanding of how to improve their skills. The same algorithms that train the human player also dictate the AI opponent, along with calculations on proper paddle placement and velocity.
"While augmented reality table tennis is a lot of fun, it also demonstrates a key concept that's largely unexplored in mixed reality right now — artificial skills training for real-world scenarios," wrote Johnathon Selstad, a software engineer (and one of the lead engineers for Project North Star) at Leap Motion, in a blog post. "In VR, we can shape the experience to optimize learning a task or behavior. AR elevates this potential with familiar real world environments, allowing us to contextualize learned skills. By overlaying virtual indicators and heuristics onto the user's view, we can even help them develop a deeper intuition of the system."
With any emerging technology, hardware and software makers are apt to build their own apps to show developers the upward limits and potential of the platform. In this case, the table tennis demo displays the open source headset design's field-of-view, refresh rate, and resolution, as well as how it can perform in spatial environments. Demonstrations like these can act as catalysts for other innovative apps that match the platform's capabilities.
"At Leap Motion, we're always looking to advance our interactions in ways that push our hardware and software," wrote Selstad. "As one of the lead engineers on Project North Star, I believe that augmented reality can be a truly compelling platform for human-computer interaction. While AR's true potential comes from dissolving the barriers between humans and computers, I also believe that it can help improve our abilities in the real world. As we augment our reality, we augment ourselves."