Ultraleap Stereo IR 170 camera module hand tracking

See Stereo IR 170 Hand Tracking in Action

Today, we’re making our high-performance Stereo IR 170 hand tracking module (formerly known as Rigel) widely available as an evaluation kit. Jonny Codling, VP Product, looks at why leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets Varjo Technologies chose to use the Stereo IR 170 in their VR-2 Pro headset.

Back in 2019, Varjo Technologies were looking to include hand tracking as a feature in their new VR-2 Pro headset. They needed the hardware to be seamlessly integrated. As a leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets with human-eye resolution, Varjo also wanted the best possible hand tracking hardware to match their ultra-high quality visual fidelity.

Varjo VR-2 Pro headset with Ultraleap hand tracking technology
Varjo’s VR-2 Pro with embedded hand tracking using the Stereo IR 170.

Enter the Ultraleap Stereo IR 170 (formerly known as Rigel). Instead of using the Leap Motion Controller and a separate VR mount for hand tracking, Varjo embedded Ultraleap’s high-performance Stereo IR 170 Camera Module directly into their headset.

“When developing the VR-2 Pro, our aim was to make the most professional VR device in every sense. Embedding the most advanced integrated hand tracking in the world was a key part of our vision. When matched with Varjo’s visual fidelity and precise eye-tracking, the Stereo IR 170 helped us unlock the next level of professional VR.”
Urho Konttori, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer - Varjo

The combination of Ultraleap’s hand tracking software and the Stereo IR 170 Camera Module gave the VR-2 Pro gold standard hand tracking – the best anywhere in the world, embedded into Varjo’s own hardware.

How is the Stereo IR 170 different from the Leap Motion Controller?

The Stereo IR 170 is a sister to the Leap Motion Controller. Both use the same world-leading hand tracking software, but the Stereo IR 170 has a wider field of view (170x170° typical field of view, 160x160° minimum) and longer tracking range (extending from 10cm to 75cm or more).

It also has a slimmer form factor, lower power consumption, and is suitable for integration directly into customers’ hardware.

Ultraleap Stereo IR 170 camera module hand tracking
A sister to the Leap Motion Controller hand tracking module, the Stereo IR 170 has a wider field of view, longer tracking range, slimmer form factor, and lower power consumption.

The Leap Motion Controller is still my go-to hand tracking module for many applications. However, for projects such as the VR-2 Pro where having a larger interaction zone makes a difference, when it’s desirable to embed hardware, or where form factor and power consumption really matter, the Stereo IR 170 offers an important alternative. 

Meet the Stereo IR 170 Evaluation Kit for hand tracking

Previously only available to selected partners, I’m excited to announce that today we’re making the Stereo IR 170 widely available as an evaluation kit. The kit includes the Stereo IR 170 Camera Module in a plastic housing with USB header, for easy plug-and-play evaluation.

Ultraleap Stereo IR 170 evaluation kit hand tracking
Our Stereo IR 170 Evaluation Kit includes the Stereo IR 170 Camera Module in a plastic housing with USB header, for easy plug-and-play evaluation.

You can already find the Stereo IR 170 embedded not only in the VR-2 Pro, but also Pimax’s bespoke hand tracking module, VRgineers’ XTAL headset and Dreamcraft's Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride attraction.

The Medical Virtual Reality (MedVR) group at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies have already used the Stereo IR 170 to great effect. They integrated early prototypes with various VR headsets to build game-based applications that improve rehabilitation following stroke or brain injury.

When I saw that Ultraleap was making the Stereo IR 170 publicly available, my heart skipped a beat! We experimented with the early prototype version of this sensor and were extremely impressed with the wider field of view.
Dr Albert "Skip" Rizzo, Director, Medical Virtual Reality - University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies

Away from VR, award-winning experience design company Cortina Productions are using the Stereo IR 170 to develop post-pandemic interactive exhibits in museums and aquariums. "Not only can we retrofit existing installations, but we can create entirely new exhibition hardware with the Stereo IR 170 as an integrated component,” says Stephen Platenberg, Principal and Creative Director. “The larger interaction zone makes a real difference and expands the possibilities for touchless interactions." 

Now it’s part of our standard hand tracking toolkit, I’m looking forward to seeing many more projects powered by the capabilities of this high-performance device.

To find out more about the Stereo IR 170 Evaluation Kit and where you can buy it, head over to our product pages.

Jonny Codling is a patented inventor with extensive experience in developing and bringing innovative products to market in the consumer electronics and automotive sectors. He wishes he had invented the human hand.