10 years after the launch of Leap Motion—which garnered praise for offering some of the best hand-tracking in the industry—the company has announced a next-generation version of the device which now supports standalone XR headsets in addition to Windows and MacOS.

Years before the modern era of VR, Leap Motion set out to build a hand-tracking module that it hoped would revolutionize human-computer interaction. Launched initially in 2013, the device was praised for its impressive hand-tracking, but failed to find a killer use-case when used as an accessory for PCs. But as the VR spark began anew a few years later, Leap Motion’s hand-tracking started to look like a perfect input method for interacting with immersive content.

Between then and now the company pivoted heavily into the VR space, but didn’t manage to find its way into any major headsets until well after the launch of first-gen VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (though that didn’t stop developers from attached the Leap Motion module and experimenting with hand-tracking). Over the years the company kept honing their hand-tracking tech, improving its software stack which made hand-tracking with the first generation of the hand-tracking module better over time.

First generation Leap Motion | Image courtesy Leap Motion

(It should be noted that Leap Motion was once both the name of the device and the company itself, Leap Motion was merged with another company to form Ultraleap back in 2019.)

More recently the company has built newer versions of its hand-tracking module—including integrations with headsets from the likes of Varjo and Lynx—but never sold that newer hardware as a standalone tracking module that anyone could buy. Until now.

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Leap Motion 2 is the first new standalone hand-tracking module from the company since the original, and it’s already available for pre-order, priced at $140, and expected to ship this Summer.

Purportedly built for “XR, desktop use, holographic displays, and Vtubing,” Ultraleap says the Leap Motion 2 is its “most flexible camera ever” thanks to support for Windows, MacOS, and standalone Android headsets with Qualcomm’s XR2 chip.

Image courtesy Ultraleap

From a specs standpoint, the company says the new tracker has “higher resolution cameras, increased field-of-view, and 25% lower power consumption, all in a 30% smaller package for optimum placement and convenience.”

Ultraleap says that Leap Motion 2 will give developers an easy way to experiment with high-quality hand-tracking by adding it to headsets like Varjo Aero, Pico Neo 3 Pro, and Lenovo’s ThinkReality VRX. The company also plans to sell a mount for the device to be attached to XR headsets, as it did with the original device.

Image courtesy Ultraleap

And with the launch of this next-gen hand-tracking module, Ultraleap says it’s moving on from the original Leap Motion tracker.

“Existing customers [using the first Leap Motion module] may continue to access the latest compatible software including the soon-to-be-released Gemini for macOS. Support will also continue to be provided. Future versions of the software will not deliver any performance improvements to the original Leap Motion Controller device,” the company says.

Ultraleap said it has sold more than 1 million Leap Motion trackers to date, with some 350,000 developers having build apps and experiences using the company’s hand-tracking tech.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • xyzs

    Any info on the latency ?
    Because that is mainly what makes hand tracking not a goto solution for many.
    This and the shaky position refinements.

    Basically if it can follow the hands so well that you just can’t get rid of the cg hand doubles on top of the filmed hands, even when moving fast doing some crazy movements, that’s a win. If not, that’s an interesting work in progress.

    • ViRGiN

      Are you actually interested in “latency”, or how it can be actually used as a customer?
      Cause these things are obsolete as F.

      • Celest

        Obsolete?

        • ViRGiN

          Absolutely. UltraLeap hand tracking is a decade old, and basically got zero adoption. A year of quest hand tracking spawned infinitely more developer and user interest.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      So far Ultraleap’s hand tracking has been seen as vastly superior to what Meta offered on the Quest, though Meta’s has improved a lot, esp. regarding occlusion. One of the reasons for trailing despite having 10K MRL employees is possibly that Meta did all the tracking on the DSP sub-processor of the SD835 in Quest 1 to free CPU and GPU for apps. Which was quite an achievement, but most likely limited performance in the long run.

      On the other hand Ultraleap for the longest time only ran on PCs which allowed for very low latency software with the 120Hz cameras in the Leap Motion 1. They struggled for years to release a workable version for Android, so the smoother and more accurate hand tracking came at a price. Some time ago they partnered with Qualcomm to optimize their tracking software especially for the XR2, and if this didn’t end in a horrible hack, I’d assume that they now can offer the most refined mobile hand tracking, though I’d expect it to be more performance/power hungry than the tightly integrated tracking on Quest.

      With the drop of Quest 1 support Meta may also allow the hand tracking to require more resources on Quest 2/3, which could then lead to a jump in tracking quality. Ultraleap still has the advanced hardware with cameras running at 120Hz, while the Quest 1 used 30Hz. Quest 2 developers got an optional 60Hz hand tracking mode about two years ago, reducing latency by 10%, but at the same time demanding more computing power. While apps without hand tracking can run CPU and GPU at the max performance level of 4, all apps using 30Hz tracking where limited to CPU 3/GPU 3, and those using 60Hz tracking to CPU 3/GPU 2 to prevent overheating, indicating that the limiting factor for hand tracking is still the power requirements. So hopefully faster SoCs like the XR2 Gen 2 will improve it a lot.

  • ViRGiN

    Aaaand every single pi-owner got majestically fked in the back by buying forever outdated “modules” lol