Leap Motion is jumping into virtual reality with a new add-on for the Oculus Rift that can track your hands in apps designed for the VR headset.
“If virtual reality is to be anything like actual reality, we believe that fast, accurate, and robust hand tracking will be absolutely essential,” Leap said in a blog post. “We believe in the concept of other specialized controllers as well, but our hands themselves are the fundamental and universal human input device.”
Current virtual reality headsets use standard input devices like game controllers for hand tracking; an Xbox 360 controller for the Oculus Rift or the PlayStation Move for Sony’s Project Morpheus, for example.
But using infrared imagery from Leap Motion sensors can turn VR headsets into “stereoscopic windows into the world around you,” Leap said. “What it sees, you see.”
Adding a Leap Motion device to something like the Oculus Rift “expands the tracking space to be in any direction you’re facing,” Leap said. “You can reach forward, turn around, look up and down, and the tracking follows you wherever you go. Because our device’s field of view exceeds that of existing VR displays, you’ll find it can start to track your hands before you even see them.”
To that end, Leap released a new developer mount for the Leap Motion that clips on to VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. The mount is now on sale for $19.99, while the Leap Motion Controller is $79.99, and the Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 (DK2) is $350.
The tools are largely for developers; even the Oculus Rift is still in beta mode. But Leap Motion is updating its own beta SDK alongside the release of the mount, “which includes a massively improved ‘top-down tracking’ mode, as well as Unity and C++ examples.”
“These show how to use both the image overlays and the tracking data from a head-mounted position, then give further examples of more sophisticated 3D interactions,” Leap said. “Thanks to major software advancements since our V2 tracking developer beta was launched in May, this is all possible with the current generation peripheral device.”
Commenters on Leap’s blog post questioned whether the mount will interfere with the Oculus Rift’s new positional tracking camera. But Leap said it does not since “the DK2 is designed to have way more LEDs than strictly necessary” in order to accommodate these types of add-ons.
“We’ve used positional tracking with the mount on DK2 successfully without encountering any issues,” Leap said.
Looking ahead, Leap Motion is working on “Dragonfly,” a prototype sensor that virtual reality hardware makers can embed in their products. “Dragonfly possesses greater-than-HD image resolution, color and infrared imagery, and a significantly larger field of view,” Leap said.
Jarrett Neil Ridlinghafer
Founder & CEO/CTO
Synapse Synergy Group, Inc.