Leap Motion

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This article is about the motion-sensing technology company. For the physical movement, see jumping.
Leap Motion, Inc.
Industry Motion control
Founded November 1, 2010
  • Michael Buckwald
  • David Holz
Headquarters San Francisco, California, United States
Website www.leapmotion.com

Leap Motion, Inc. is an American company that manufactures and markets a computer hardware sensor device that supports hand and finger motions as input, analogous to a mouse, but requires no hand contact or touching. In 2016, the company released new software designed for hand tracking in virtual reality.


The technology for Leap Motion was first developed in 2008, while co-founder David Holz was studying for a Ph.D. in mathematics.[1][2] Following an initial angel investment, Holz co-founded the company in 2010 with his childhood friend Michael Buckwald. The company raised a $1.3M seed financing round in June 2011 with investments from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, and SOSV, as well as several angel investors.[3] In May 2012, Leap Motion announced a $12.75M Series A funding round led by Highland Capital Partners.[4] In January 2013, Leap Motion announced a further series B round of funding for $30M.[5]

After operating in quiet since 2010, Leap Motion publicly announced its first product, originally called The Leap, on May 21, 2012. The company launched a software developer program in October 2012[6] and distributed roughly 12,000 units to developers interested in creating applications for the device. While the device was slated to launch in May 2013, full-scale shipping was later delayed until July.[7] In March 2014, it was reported in TechCrunch that roughly 500,000 units had been sold, far short of initial expectations; as a result, Leap Motion announced layoffs for 10 percent of its workforce, primarily in sales and marketing.[8]

On April 7, 2014 COO Andy Miller left the company.[9] In May 2014, Leap Motion released its version 2 software to developers in a public beta.[10][11][12] In August 2014, the company launched a VR tracking mode for its core software, designed to provide hand tracking while the device is mounted on virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift.[13][14] Later that year, Leap Motion launched a global game jam in partnership with independent games festival IndieCade with over $75,000 in prizes. The competition received over 150 submissions.[15] A second competition in 2015 resulted in 189 entries.[16]

In March 2015, it was announced that the upcoming OSVR Hacker Development Kit would include an optional faceplate with embedded Leap Motion module.[17] In February 2016, Leap Motion released new software, called Orion, built specifically for VR.[18]


Leap Motion has partnered with ASUS who is expected to ship high-end notebooks, and all-in-one PCs (AIO PCs) with the technology later in 2013.[19] Leap Motion also announced a deal with Hewlett Packard to embed its technology within HP computers.[20] In December 2013, it was reported Leap Motion would be embedded into eleven HP devices, including keyboards and laptops.[21]

Leap Motion has formed retail partnerships with Best Buy, Newegg, and Amazon.com.[22] Leap Motion controllers are sold by Dick Smith in Australia and New Zealand.[23][24]


Leap Motion Controller

The Leap Motion controller is a small USB peripheral device which is designed to be placed on a physical desktop, facing upward. It can also be mounted onto a virtual reality headset. Using two monochromatic IR cameras and three infrared LEDs, the device observes a roughly hemispherical area, to a distance of about 1 meter. The LEDs generate pattern-less IR light[25] and the cameras generate almost 200 frames per second of reflected data.[26] This is then sent through a USB cable to the host computer, where it is analyzed by the Leap Motion software using "complex maths" in a way that has not been disclosed by the company, in some way synthesizing 3D position data by comparing the 2D frames generated by the two cameras.[27][28] In a 2013 study, the overall average accuracy of the controller was shown to be 0.7 millimeters.[29]

The smaller observation area and higher resolution of the device differentiates the product from the Kinect, which is more suitable for whole-body tracking in a space the size of a living room.[30] In a demonstration to CNET, the controller was shown to perform tasks such as navigating a website, using pinch-to-zoom gestures on maps, high-precision drawing, and manipulating complex 3D data visualizations.[30]

Leap Motion initially distributed thousands of units to developers who are interested in creating applications for the device. The Leap Motion controller was first shipped in July 2013.[7] In February 2016, Leap Motion released a major beta update to its core software. Dubbed Orion, the software is designed for hand tracking in virtual reality.[31][32]

Developer community[edit]

In December 2013, Founders Fund and SOSV announced the LEAP.AXLR8R, a business accelerator for startups making innovative use of the Leap Motion controller.[33][34] Projects emerging from the accelerator included Diplopia (now Vivid Vision), a tech startup using the Leap Motion Controller and Oculus Rift for lazy eye sufferers,[35][36][37] and MotionSavvy, which is developing a Leap Motion-equipped tablet case that can interpret American Sign Language.[38][39]

Leap Motion has an app store called Airspace where it sells apps made by developers.[40][41] As of May 2014, the store had over 200 apps, including a Google Earth integration,[42][43] virtual clay sculpting app,[44][45] digital musical instrument,[46] and virtual reality demos.[17][47]

The Leap Motion controller has also been used by surgeons and researchers for medical software,[48][49][50] automotive companies for concept cars,[51] and musicians for composition in Ableton Live.[52] In 2016, AltspaceVR added Leap Motion support to their online social platform.[53][54]


On July 22, 2013, the Leap Motion Controller was released to pre-order customers to mixed reviews.[55][56] To some reviewers, the product feels underwhelming and does not live up to the hype. It is an "admirable distraction but not useful for truly productive usage" and to some it feels as though they "experienced a gimmick". Some reviews have expressed cautious optimism about the product's success and innovation.[57][58][59] To other reviewers, the Leap Motion controller seemed "pretty damned impressive" and that the device "demonstrates Leap Motion’s impressive mastery of computer vision."[60][61] While the Orion software offers improvements in tracking and as the system continues to improve, some users feel that "it fails just often enough to undercut its value as an interface."[62]

The Orion beta works on the existing peripheral, and Leap Motion also announced that Orion hardware would be embedded in future virtual reality headsets[citation needed].


  1. ^ Richardson, Nicole Marie (2013-05-28). "One Giant Leap for Mankind". Inc.com. Retrieved 2014-08-15. Holz began developing the software back in 2008 while he was studying for a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Frustrated by the limitations of the mouse and keyboard, he spent nearly five years developing the cameras in the controller. By the time he paired up with Buckwald, a childhood friend and entrepreneur, Holz had a prototype. [...] 
  2. ^ Foster, Tom (2013-07-22). "Will These Guys Kill The Computer Interface As We Know It?". Popular Science. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  3. ^ Tsotsis, Alexia (2011-06-10). "OcuSpec Raises 1.3M From Andreessen And Others To Build An "Affordable Kinect"". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-05-23. Stealth motion control startup OcuSpec has just raised a $1.3 million seed round from Andreesen Horowitz, Founders Fund, SOSventures International and angels Brian McClendon, Bill Warner and others. [...] Leap Motion (previously OcuSpec) 
  4. ^ "Leap Motion Announces $12.75 Million Series A Funding Round Led by Highland Capital Partners". Leap Motion. Marketwire. 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2012-05-23. Leap Motion, a San Francisco-based motion-control software company changing the future of human/computer interaction, today announced a $12.75 million Series A funding round led by Highland Capital Partners with participation from existing investors. 
  5. ^ Kosner, Anthony (2013-12-06). "Leap Motion Announces $30M Series B Funding And Bundle Deal With ASUS Computers". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-12-08. Leap Motion, the startup behind the revolutionary LEAP motion-control device, has secured an additional $30 million in Series B funding, and announced a partnership with ASUS to bundle its controllers with ”new high-end notebooks and premium All-in-One PCs later this year.” 
  6. ^ Panzarino, Matthew (2012-10-29). "Leap Motion launches Software Developer Program and starts sending test units of its 3D controller". The Next Web. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  7. ^ a b Etherington, Darrell (2013-04-25). "Leap Motion Controller Ship Date Delayed Until July 22, Due To A Need For A Larger, Longer Beta Test". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  8. ^ Etherington, Darrell (2014-03-20). "Leap Motion Lays Off 10% Of Its Workforce After Missing On First Year Sales Estimates". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  9. ^ Gannes, Liz (April 7, 2014). "Confirmed: Former Apple Exec Andy Miller Out at Leap Motion". recode.net. 
  10. ^ Buckley, Sean (2014-05-28). "Leap Motion's latest motion tracking tech can see your joints". Engadget. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  11. ^ Moynihan, Tim (2014-05-28). "Leap Motion Adds More-Intricate Tracking to Its Amazing Controller". Wired. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  12. ^ Wing, Anthony (2014-05-29). "Leap Motion Hand Tracking Gets More Realistic To Solve Real World Problems". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  13. ^ Buckley, Sean. "Leap Motion's next sensor is designed specifically for virtual reality". Engadget. AOL. 
  14. ^ http://www.roadtovr.com/ces-2015-leap-motion-co-founders-talk-dragonfly-made-vr-motion-input-camera/
  15. ^ Ben Lang. "Leap Motion '3D Jam' Dev Contest Offers $75k in Prizes for Leap-Based Experiences, Starts October 19th - Road to VR". Road to VR. 
  16. ^ "Lyra VR puts music synthesis within virtual reach". www.gizmag.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  17. ^ a b Scott Hayden. "Winners of Leap Motion '3D Jam' Game Jam Contest Announced - Road to VR". Road to VR. 
  18. ^ "Leap Motion Announces Orion for Faster, More Accurate VR Hand Tracking | VRFocus". VRFocus. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  19. ^ "ASUS partners up with Leap Motion". 
  20. ^ "Leap Motion seals HP deal to embed gesture control technology". 
  21. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (2013-12-09). "HP embeds Leap Motion gesture control tech in 11 computers". CNET. Retrieved 2013-12-09. In September, HP said it was incorporating Leap Motion's tech into the Envy 17 laptop, making it the first manufacturer to build the system directly into a computer. This time around, however, HP is embedding the system into stand-alone keyboards, as well as into laptops. All told, the Leap Motion system will be included in eight HP desktop all-in-one machines, and three new desktop PCs. 
  22. ^ Chacos, Brad (2013-12-06). "HP embeds Leap Motion gesture controller in 11 desktop and all-in-one PCs". PCWorld. Retrieved 2013-12-09. Leap Motion works on any computer, and you can buy the standalone hardware for $80 at Best Buy stores, or online at Newegg, Amazon, or Leap Motion's own website. 
  23. ^ Catanzariti, Ross (2013-10-10). "LDick Smith to exclusively sell Leap Motion". ARN. Retrieved 2013-12-09. "Dick Smith has more than 270 retail stores, a presence in many high-profile David Jones stores and a popular online retail site, making it the perfect partner for Leap Motion to launch in Australia," he said. 
  24. ^ Bell, Alan (2013-04-12). "Leap Motion 3D Controller Launches in NZ With Dick Smith". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2013-12-09. Leap Motion have announced the local release details for the Leap Motion 3D controller this morning, revealing the date that it will become available in New Zealand[...]the Leap Motion 3D Controller retails in New Zealand for $159, and can be pre-ordered online at dicksmith.co.nz. 
  25. ^ "Analysis of the Accuracy and Robustness of the Leap Motion Controller". PubMed Central. 
  26. ^ "Controller — Leap Motion JavaScript SDK v2.3 documentation". developer.leapmotion.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  27. ^ "Observation Area". 
  28. ^ An inside view of the Leap Motion controller.
  29. ^ Weichert, Frank; Bachmann, Daniel; Rudak, Bartholomäus; Fisseler, Denis (2013-05-14). "Analysis of the Accuracy and Robustness of the Leap Motion Controller". Sensors (Basel, Switzerland). 13 (5): 6380–6393. doi:10.3390/s130506380. ISSN 1424-8220. PMC 3690061free to read. PMID 23673678. 
  30. ^ a b Terdiman, Daniel (2012-05-20). "Leap Motion: 3D hands-free motion control, unbound". Cutting Edge. cnet. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  31. ^ Lang, Ben. "Orion is Leap Motion's Overhauled VR Hand Tracking Engine". Road to VR. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  32. ^ "Leap Motion's new motion-sensing tech is built for VR". Engadget. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  33. ^ Wagner, Lauren (2013-12-09). "Founders Fund and SOSventures launch startup accelerator for Leap Motion's gesture tech". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2013-12-08. Founders Fund and SOSventures have joined to launch Leap Axlr8r –– a startup accelerator for companies building on Leap Motion, the gesture-based technology that’s dictating the future of 3D human computer interaction. 
  34. ^ Anthony Wing Kosner (29 May 2014). "Leap Motion Hand Tracking Gets More Realistic To Solve Real World Problems". Forbes. 
  35. ^ "Using Leap Motion And Oculus Rift, This Game Tries To Correct Lazy Eye". Fast Company. 
  36. ^ "Oculus VR and Leap Motion used to help people with double vision". ABC7 San Francisco. 
  37. ^ Brian Hart. "'Diplopia' Becomes 'Vivid Vision', Trials Get Underway - Interview with CEO James Blaha - Road to VR". Road to VR. 
  38. ^ Buckley, Sean. "MotionSavvy uses gesture recognition to give sign language a voice". Engadget. AOL. 
  39. ^ Alexia Tsotsis. "MotionSavvy Is A Tablet App That Understands Sign Language". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  40. ^ Lee, Kevin (2013-12-06). "Leap Motion bounding to more HP desktops, all-in-ones with new keyboard". Techradar. Retrieved 2013-12-08. Users will be able to access Airspace, Leap Motion's own app store, for a (hopefully) expanding number of applications. 
  41. ^ Kosner, Anthony (2013-11-23). "Leap Motion Controller Leaps Forward With Software, Sharpens Focus With Apps". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-12-08. This is only the second app produced by Leap Motion that has been released into Airspace. 
  42. ^ "With New Leap Motion Support, Google Earth Lets You Touch The World". Fast Company. 
  43. ^ "Use Leap Motion with Google Earth". google.com. 
  44. ^ Michael Gorman. "Leap Motion releases Free Form, an app that lets human hands sculpt digital clay (video)". Engadget. AOL. 
  45. ^ "Freeform: Digital Sculpting With Adaptive Surface Topology and Seamless 3D Coordinate Systems - SIGGRAPH 2014". siggraph.org. 
  46. ^ Jackie Dove (4 April 2014). "Leap Motion's new Muse app lets you create music with in-air hand gestures". The Next Web. 
  47. ^ "An Arty Oculus Trip Through the Large Hadron Collider". WIRED. 27 October 2014. 
  48. ^ ""Minority Report" Tech Meets the Operating Room". spectrum.ieee.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  49. ^ "TedCas Integrates Leap Motion Controller with Medical Imaging Systems | TEDCAS". www.tedcas.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  50. ^ Rosa, Guillermo M.; Elizondo, MarÍa L. "Use of a gesture user interface as a touchless image navigation system in dental surgery: Case series report". Imaging Science in Dentistry. 44 (2). doi:10.5624/isd.2014.44.2.155. PMC 4061300free to read. PMID 24944966. 
  51. ^ "Mercedes-Benz unveils its vision of a self-driving car". Engadget. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  52. ^ Vincent, James. "Ableton's Connection Kit lets you make music with Lego and a banana". The Verge. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  53. ^ "AltspaceVR Adds Full Oculus Rift Support (Update: Vive, Too)". Tom's Hardware. 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  54. ^ Stuart, Keith (2016-03-24). "Alone together: my weird morning in a virtual reality chatroom". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  55. ^ Leap Motion Controller, Great Hardware in Search of Great Software July 24, 2013 NYT
  56. ^ Hutchinson, Lee (2013-07-27). "Hands-on with the Leap Motion Controller: Cool, but frustrating as hell". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  57. ^ "Leap Motion Launches With Limited Appeal, But It Could Be A Ticking Time Bomb Of Innovation". 
  58. ^ "Leap Motion controller review". 
  59. ^ "Leap Motion: As far as controllers go it's not a big leap forward... yet". 
  60. ^ Kumparak, Greg. "Hands On: Leap Motion's Minority Report-style Gesture Controller Gets Smarter, Faster, And More Accurate". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  61. ^ Lang, Ben. "Video Shows Huge Improvements in Leap Motion Tracking". Road to VR. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  62. ^ Robertson, Adi. "Leap Motion's revamped hand tracking is getting built straight into VR headsets". The Verge. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 

External links[edit]