The LEAP motion controller is designed to track hand and finger movements in space and can be used for human-computer-interaction. The company of the same name as the device has been founded in 2010. By end of 2012 the first tracking devices has been send to developers and by mid-2013 the device has been freely available. With the emerging boom in VR HMDs the company in 2016 released a new SDK with added VR support.
The LEAP motion controller is a small USB device that is meant to be placed on the desktop, e.g. next to the keyboard. For VR usage the controller can be attached onto the HMD facing in the users viewing direction.
The Leap motion device can be used with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The newest VR ready software is windows only. The device is made for PC use and thus only as mobile as a PC is. There is however a closed alpha SDK promising a future of LEAP motion based mobile applications .
The LEAP motion controller is an infrared light based stereoscopic camera. By illuminating the close space near to the cameras with infrared light it is able to capture a user’s hands and fingers. By utilizing some sort of tracking algorithm it is able to estimate the position and orientation of the hand and its fingers. The maximum infrared illumination is limited by the maximum current that can be drawn over the USB connection. Strong sunlight or poor lightning conditions can interfere with the tracking quality. The controller’s action area is about 150° by 120° wide and spans about 80 cm originating from the device. The tracking precision has been proved to be remarkably good. The standard deviation is less than a millimeter, although an accuracy drop with higher distances has been noted . Although the camera can’t see occluded parts of the hands, the algorithm can estimate to some extend typical hand gestures and thus provide astonishing useful tracking. Nevertheless the software can’t fulfill wonders and thus sometimes fails. The device performs best with the whole hands visible