Leap Motion announced that its plans to bring its hand tracking technology to the mobile market, bringing hand-tracking features to virtual reality headsets that rely on smartphones, like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google’s Daydream platform. The software company is working with partners to integrate second-generation Leap Motion sensors into mobile VR HMDs in 2017.
New Sensor Hardware:
Leap Motion’s new Mobile Platform uses a new sensor, and the company says that it ‘reinvented’ its Orion software to run at nearly 10 times the speed. Performance is ‘smoother and more accurate’ than ever before, it says. The sensor is a small strip that can be embedded into mobile head-mounted displays — in fact, Leap Motion CEO and President Michael Buckwald, CTO and co-founder Caleb Kruse, and David Holz, chief of staff, gave us a whirl with a Samsung Gear VR.
Orion has been available for the Rift and Vive since earlier this year, but the company is now taking it to the next level with the ‘Leap Motion Mobile Platform’ which is the same setup but designed for mobile VR. Michael Buckwald, Leap Motion’s CEO and co-cofounder, told me the company is targeting mobile VR headsets because it is the easiest entry point into VR for consumers since they don’t need a powerful PC; all they need is a headset and a smartphone.
The new sensor features a 180 x 180 degree field of view that is much wider than the original model’s 140 x 120 field of view.
The sensor can also detect hand motion from a longer range for those with long arms and it is been optimized to consume half as much energy. Using hand motions could be a more natural way to interact with games, videos, or other VR apps instead of a Daydream-style remote or Gear VR-style touchpad on the headset itself.
For now, Leap Motion has developed a reference system that tacks hand-tracking features on top of a Gear VR headset. The company will be demonstrating it at events and sending demo units to device makers in hopes of showing what hand-tracking can bring to mobile VR. It remains to be seen whether anyone will bite, so there’s no word on when you will be able to get your hands on (or in front of) a Leap Motion-powered headset.