Liminal is a start-up funded by Samsung Accelerator to build consumer-grade augmented reality glasses. It was a uniquely ambitious and design-driven product development effort.
Liminal AR is currently one of the few companies that have built a complete working prototype of AR glasses with inside-out tracking, real-time multiplayer 3D experiences and commercial (mil spec) quality transparent displays.
Our first concept was for indoors use. An AR eyeglasses that allows users to have access to applications in an indoor environment.
For prototype purposes, this approach worked great, because it allowed us to have more control of the tracking systems and the internal computers of the glasses.
The main idea was to take the prototype to the next stage making that portable and with really reliable tracking system. Our partnership and lenses gave us 53º field the view which is pretty wide for an AR eyeglasses.
We did several tests on transparent displays in order to test the user interface. AR lenses don't project the color black, so we had to consider that when designing the elements of the screen. Also, designing a user interface for augmented reality completely brought us to a new world that required a new set of mind. The depth and and tridimensionality of the interface were challenging but fun. At Liminal, our design team designed for both personal heads-up display system and multi-person 3D interactive content system.
For our interface, we consider 3 main depth of interaction: 1. The bubble (the field closer to you); 2. The stage (the area or room around you that allows interaction, average of 12 feet); 3. Horizon (more useful for outdoor experiences and almost not used in indoor experiences).
The Bubble is where most of the interaction with the operation system occurs. It is the closest area to the user and doesn't require tracking because it is static, meaning that it follows the eyeglasses screen. Bellow, there is a diagram of the bubble and its areas.
For prototyping, we used Epson Moverio eye glasses, optic track and SA Photonics. Rapid prototyping of experiences for VR (Oculus Rift DK2), AR (Unity and Unreal Engine) and Stereoscopic Video
The main interaction tool that our prototype offered for users was a small joystick with a clicker which was attached to the eyeglasses cable. That was enough for users to navigate in the system and play around with the applications. Bellow there is an evolution of how our joystick were improved over the prototype iterations and user tests.
The technology for AR is really complex and still requires a lot of the computer processing. That means that making a portable eyeglasses with the reliable tracking in a short time and limited investment was not possible.
The challenges with the technology were eminent and that brought a new thinking for the design team: How can we create a reliable AR experience with the technology that is currently available? That's when we decided to create an AR binoculars made mainly for outdoors experiences. We called that "Wayfinder".
The new concept was a binoculars with a smaller field the view and less robust tracking system. Although these changes look like down points, they made the experience much better: it became portable, lighter and more useful for outdoor experiences. Sometimes, all we need for a better user experience is to simplify the technology.
Our new target was great outdoors enthusiasts.
We'll be in touch soon!