The new Leap Motion Mobile Platform consists of hardware and software optimised for VR and AR hand tracking on mobile devices. Building on the success of the original Leap Motion device, the brand new hardware aims to be tightly integrated into future mobile VR headsets.

Designed as a natural motion interface for PC and Mac, the original Leap Motion Controller began shipping in volume in July 2013, for $80. This attractive price was largely achieved by a breakthrough in software; the hardware itself was fairly simple, containing two cameras and three infrared LEDs. Early hand tracking applications which interfaced with traditional displays seemed somewhat abstract, but the compact dimensions and light weight meant that Leap Motion Controllers soon found themselves attached to the front of Oculus Rift development kits. This allowed users to finally ‘see’ their hands in VR, with fully-tracked fingers, marking the beginning of a fruitful relationship between Leap Motion and VR.

Since then, Leap Motion has improved their VR support significantly, and the importance of software was further illustrated by the huge jump in technology delivered by ‘Project Orion’ which began as a major software update in February designed specifically for VR. While still using the original hardware, Orion delivered massive improvements to tracking speed and accuracy. However, the Leap Motion Controller’s hardware was finalised in 2012, and we’ve been waiting patiently for the second phase of Orion, a brand new tracking system designed for VR and built in to headsets.

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leap-motion-mobile-platform-sensortThat day is almost here, with Leap Motion’s chief technology officer David Holz revealing the Leap Motion Mobile Platform on the company’s blog. The improvements address the field of view, the ‘biggest request from the VR community’; the brand new sensor, which is designed for low-power mobile devices, delivers a 180×180 degree field of view—up from 140×120 degrees on the original Leap Motion Controller—and is said to run at 10 times the speed of the original hardware while using “much lower power”. The increased field of view means the user’s hands can continue to be tracked even when held in a more natural location rather than directly front of them, a major pain point for VR use with the original device.

As clarified in an answer in the blog’s comments, this is intended to be embedded technology, and the company has no plans for a new standalone peripheral. No further information was provided in terms of timeframe or pricing, but the company says we can expect to see Leap Motion technology in multiple mobile headsets in the near future.

leap-motion-mobile-platform-reference-headsetHolz said in the announcement that the company has created a reference platform using the new Leap Motion Mobile Platform that’s built on the Gear VR headset. The plans to demo the reference device at upcoming events starting this month.

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  • ZenInsight

    Thats what Im talkin about! Now permit 3d movement using dual cameras and 4K on the S8 and its a VR phone evolution.

    • ES

      I don’t see mobile running 4K in vr for a long time. Currently not even i7 + 2 x 1080 + nuclear power plant can’t do it properly.

      • Augure

        Please refrain from talking about what you obviously have not a fucking clue about. “Meh meh 4K 60fps, too much powerz, many GPU terraflop needed”…enough with these non-sensical lies.

        • Get Schwifty!

          I mean, the guy has a point… if it’s not happening at 4K on the PC with many factors beyond what a phone can hope to ever do, how realistic is 4K VR on a phone? Is there some aspect to it on a phone we are missing?

          • Augure

            Well, think of mobile VR, as in “smartphone” VR. Strictly speaking of high-end Video Game capabilities or even advanced software, sure, a dedicated PC far outpowers a smartphone.

            But the point of using the smartphone mobile, tactile, connected, pluggable…capabilities is to use millions of apps that are today way more appealing/successful or even efficient that on PCs like photos, note taking, management, social networks, sensing, real-world operation or controller etc…

            EXACTLY the reason why VR headset being deprived from the only component that adds environment tracking, see-through capability, movement/head tracking, hand interaction etc.. and most importantly the millions of possibilities of AR, doesn’t make sense. Then, high-res screens although preferable soon in the future, and high-end graphics, are as irrelevant for VR/AR as it is for smartphones.

        • DM

          Pull your head out of your ass and show me the mobile phone that magically does what a PC multiple times more powerful can not…

          • Augure

            Never said that, go buy a fucking dictionary if you’re going to project your own interpretation of pretty simple words.

      • Ghosty

        You are not taking into account other tech like eye tracking and foveated rendering which will reduce the load on the VC by upto 60% or more.

      • ZenInsight

        Mobile running 4k? Sony does it now. If it doesn’t release on the Galaxy S8, it will on the Note 8 for sure. ANd now Qualcomm has functioning 3d space movement on the Snap 835. So, things are progressing I guess.

  • Augure

    Great, NO reason why this is still not integrated into Virtual Headsets.

    • Get Schwifty!

      it is exciting… even as an alternative to the current controllers…

      • Augure

        An “alternative to” is where to start for it to become a standard. We haven’t even started, and when the first thing even a fucking chimp tries to do in VR is to use his hands to interact, that tells you about how much non-sense the lack of this component means for Virtuality.

    • Klasodeth

      It’s not integrated into VR headsets because even 180 degrees is too narrow a field-of-view, and there are still tracking issues that can occur within the FOV. Controllers may be more limiting in terms of potential interactions, but they’re far more reliable than current hand tracking. A controller doesn’t forget all about your hand if you turn to look away from it. With current sensor setups, a controller is also harder to occlude than a person’s hands, and if there is temporary occlusion, a controller can use other sensors to help ride out brief occlusion.

      • Augure

        You’re thinking in terms of 1:1 tracking of the hands, like it would appear suddenly by magic and not iterations, experimentations and development, which to occur has to be adopted first. But hand gestures can be approached differently, be it with generic gesture interactions like swipe, touch, push etc…or even with a semantic gesture library.

        Controller, as well as keyboard and mouse are obsolete. It would be like a smartphone with no tactile screen. It’s called a Palm and was a failure for 10 years before smartphones.

        But your point about “controller (or just object) tracking” is right, it’s part of the point of a single component package that can do inside-out external tracking.

        • Klasodeth

          I realize that a certain amount of iterative development is an inevitability. However, every product that’s expected to live outside of a lab needs to have a certain amount of basic functionality before being released to the public. I’d argue that for VR purposes, a 180-degree FOV doesn’t reach that basic level of functionality, especially when other control schemes already have 360-degree tracking.

          It’s similar to the case of electric cars. The technology to make electric cars has been around for several decades. However, the technology to make a PRACTICAL electric car is only a recent development. The people developing electric cars didn’t just force them out on the market decades ago and expect people to just put up with severe limitations. Instead, they continued their R&D, and marketed the technology where they could, such as with electric carts where the limitations of charging and run-time aren’t such a big problem when compared to the advantages.

          180-degree tracking may be good enough for more widespread development efforts, but it’s not good enough for consumer use in all headsets, especially considering the current alternatives. The developers of Leap Motion seems to understand that, as they’re marketing their product at mobile VR, where Leap Motion can provide more functionality than the current limited control schemes available for mobile VR. For tethered VR like the Vive and Rift, Leap Motion isn’t ready to compete.

          • Augure

            “However, every product that’s expected to live outside of a lab needs to have a certain amount of basic functionality before being released to the public” in this case, the current VR headset and even more so AR glasses like HoloLens should’ve never been released.

            180° degree for hand-tracking, and you have to note that the 180° zone has nothing to do with your field of you but his more specifically oriented towards the main zone where you use and see your hands, is WELL enough for adoption, experimentation and development.

            And following these two paragraphs statements, my point is that VR headset are NOT ready or useful, let alone for consumer, because they lack these basic functionality or design schemes. That’s why adoption in this year of supposedly great VR launch, sales were completely underwhelming and way off their target predictions.

            So in truth, whether we’re talking about mobile VR or tethered VR, and in think there shouldn’t be such thing as “tethered” VR, are already NOT consumer ready Virtual Headset as they should be, because of the fact that they lack AR see through, inside-out tracking, hand-interaction, untethered pairing and streaming etc…

            So for me this Leap Motion solution is not perfect clearly, but is an urgent matter of integration into for VR for VR to make sense, so wether it’s Intel RealSense, Leap Motion, Tango or that new Windows VR thing, any starting point is a good starting point to at least get to what a Virtual Headset that make sense as a consumer device should be.

          • Augure

            In fact I’m glad you cite the electric car example. “The technology that has been around for decade” is the equivalent of Palm compared to the iPhone, and this is the other example I’m going to use to illustrate while VR, in it’s current state, will never pick-up during this cycle if it’s not a product that makes sense.

            What is a smartphone today? It’s a mobile, connected, computing system that does everything prior consumer portable devices did (calculator, portable console, compact camera, cellphone, reader, palm…) accessed/operated through a big tactile screen on a thin slate. What was a smartphone 10 years ago when the first iPhone was released? A mobile, connected, computing system that does blabla…through a big tactile screen on a thin slate.

            And that’s why the smartphone was a “perfect” consumer device as soon as it’s released, and was adopted up to 3 billions smartphone in bearly 10 years. And that’s the big difference with the Palm which was not only imperfect, but straight-up never made sense in terms of consumer device CONCEPTION. Same for electric cars: Elon Musk, who isn’t really much of an entrepreneur or engineer despite what you might think, but is a conceptor like Steve Jobs, wanted to make electric cars possible in the way it made sense to him, and that’s when he got the idea to “do like Macbook batteries, and stack hundreds of them to power a car”, and that how we now have Teslas.

            Well VR needs the same thing. As I mentioned, if the first thing even a Chimpanze tries to do when trying VR on, is to see it’s hand and interact with object (again doesn’t have to do 1:1 at first), it means that it’s actually a conceptual non-sense to not have hand-tracking in a Virtual Headset. Palmer Luckey had an initial but incomplete idea, and the only thing manufacturer subsequently did was to barely update that and release as mainstream headset that most people are skeptical or don’t want to use, because in the bigger picture VR Headset don’t make sense in the way they’re conceived yet. I mean, ask you grandma if she’s heard about virtual reality and she’ll probably tells you “yes, I see”, but ask someone who develop content or art to actually EXPLAIN to you what VR is, and they’ll struggle because nobody has made the effort to rationalise what it is or it’s sense, and thus how it should be conceived.