Leap Motion Opens Airspace App Store For Gesture Controls
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Leap Motion wants to change the way people interact with their computers, but they won’t be able to do it without app support. Today, the startup is debuting their app store for the Leap Motion 3D controller. Called Airspace, this early store will allow some 10,000 early developers access to about 50 apps to test out the functionality of their controllers. Leap will open up their developer portal sometime later this week to give new developers an opportunity to check out their APIs and develop even more apps for the controller. The Leap Motion controller will finally be available to a waiting public on July 22, and hopefully with enough apps and games to keep early adopters interested.
The Leap Motion Controller is a small USB device — a little larger than a thumb drive — that captures motions, specifically hand gestures. It essentially turns the air above the controller into a 3D touch screen while capturing pinches, pulls, swipes and pokes and transferring them to a computer. Leap first announced the controller last year and opened up their developer program to about 65,000 eager developers. Only 10,000 of these received demo units to begin writing apps for the new controller, some of which have landed on Airspace. In April, Google and Leap Motion announced a partnership that makes the Leap controller compatible with Google Earth, allowing users to scan and pan their way around the globe with a wave of their hands.
There will be two types of apps available for download in Airspace when the controller launches on July 22. The first are apps that allow core functionality for Mac OS X, Windows 7 or Windows 8. These apps will let users interact with their computers with the Leap Motion Controller in much the same way as they do with their trackpads or touch screens. Scrolling, tapping and mouse control are included in these apps.
The second group of apps will be specifically made for either the Mac or Windows platform and include games and other specialty apps meant to bring 3D gesture controls to the desktop. Though there are only about 50 apps available in the store at present, Leap hopes opening up the store to developers today will help double this number by the time the product begins shipping on July 22.
To help drive app development past the initial launch date, venture firm Highland Capital Partners has created a $25 million Leap Fund to invest in startups that build applications for the Leap Motion Controller. Highland Capital also invested in Leap to get controllers into the hands of the public.
The Leap Motion Controller has already been delayed once, but CEO Michael Buckwald told The Verge that they’re absolutely sticking to the July 22nd release date.
“We definitely want to get [Leaps] to everyone that wants one. But we’re also careful to do this the right way,” said Buckwald.
“There’s going to be a lot of demand — there already is. And we’ll be ready.”
Leap Motion Controllers will be available on the Leap website on July 22 and in Best Buy stores a week later for $79.