#639: AR as the Democratization of Architecture, Hands-On Spatial Computing, & Leap Motion’s North Star AR HMD

keiichi-matsudaKeiichi Matsuda went from being a dystopian filmmaker to becoming the vice president of design at hand-tracking company Leap Motion. Matsuda is probably the most famous for his HYPER-REALITY dystopian filmthat imagined an commodified & gamified AR future where companies are vying for your attention regardless of your physical context. He was trying to push the current philosophical orientation to the logical extreme not because he wanted to live into that future himself, but more from a perspective of a cautionary tale thinking about how this is actually a plausible near future if we don’t do anything different. One of the co-founders of Leap Motion reached out to Matsuda to invite him to help creating & influence the future of spatial computing since he has been creating functional and pragmatic spatial computing interfaces in his films since 2010.

Leap Motion just announced their open source AR HMD reference design called Project North Star, which has a 95° wide by 70° high field of view with 65% strereo overlap & 1600 x 1440 per eye. By default it will be a tethered AR HMD with a 180° x 180° hemi-sphere for tracking the hands. The full open source design will be released within the next week, and Leap Motion won’t be manufacturing their own version, but rather charge a hand-tracking licensing fee for their hand tracking software.

I stopped by Leap Motion’s offices during GDC to try out some of their latest hand-gesture user interfaces (in VR not in their AR prototype), and I had a chance to talk to Matsuda about his journey into spatial computing through architecture and making speculative sci-fi films, how spatial design can influence someone’s emotions, the iterative process of designing for fun and satisfying feelings when creating hand gesture interfaces, as well as the destruction of identity, the blurring of lines between digital and physical realities, the collaborative building of worlds, democratization of architecture, how spatial computing is more natural and intuiative, and building interfaces that are so immersive that we feel as though we’re inside of them.


Here are a number of Matsuda’s films that are worth checking out to see his evolution of spatial computing design ideas over the past eight years:

May 16, 2016

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop
January 6, 2010

Augmented City 3D
August 20, 2010

October 4, 2011
An exploration of the quantification of digital identity

August 27, 2012
Explores immersive interfaces to tell a spatial story of Veuve Clicquot wine

The Technocrat Retrofit of London
May 31, 2009

Bossarica – Neon Sign
Februrary 21, 2011
Music video blending projection mapping with 2D & 3D compositing

Essay on Cities for Cyborgs: 10 Rules

Matsuda has an upcoming immersive VR film called Merger

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