As augmented and virtual reality hardware is on top of the list to be “the next big thing”, the potential use of such hardware is still under discussion. So far, general use as an information display has not been met with enthusiasm by the general consumer, as Google and other manufacturers can attest. Leap Motion is now showing a planetarium application for the Oculus Rift VR headset.
The application requires an Oculus Rift headset as well as a Leap Motion VR Developer Mount, or similar input device, to allow for a hand input control within the application. The following image shows how the gesture input works.
In this application the gesture input allows the user to change the timeline for star constellations. It is also possible to change the location of the observation as well as allowing potential manipulation of a selected constellation, as shown in the following image.
The app is, of course, capable of displaying in stereoscopic 3D.
This is a very interesting application of VR as planetariums are otherwise not easy to come by. A simple headset and software package allows future astronomers to gain a visual feedback that otherwise would have required more substantial display equipment. The application can be downloaded for free from Leap Motion. – Norbert Hildebrand