Although the big VR makers are working on hand-tracked controllers to allow us to bring our limbs into virtual worlds with us, Leap Motion has been developing a camera based solution and it's had some success over the past couple of years. The recent Orion update could be the biggest yet though, as it's made the tracking much more accurate and intuitive.
Shown off in a demonstration video with a simplistic building title, a developer uses two hands with intricate finger tracking, to pull objects out of thin air, reconstruct them, throw them – all with detailed gesture controls. Fingers and thumbs are tracked on both hands, with multiple joints per digit.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnlCGw-0R8g']
What's most exciting about this release though, is that it's software based. Major improvements have been made to tracking and latency, making the Leap Motion tracker far better at keeping an eye on lots of minute motions you make, opening up a lot of exciting possibilities for games and applications; and it's all possible on the original hardware.
“Orion software represents a paradigm shift in how we do hand tracking,” says David Holtz, Leap Motion’s co-founder and CTO (via UploadVR). “It’s built from the ground up specifically for VR. It’s radically smoother, faster, more reliable, and far more capable than even the best of what’s existed before.”[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HnfG0a6Gfg']
Even putting your fingers outside of the camera's range can work quite well, as the software is able to predict where they should be based on the orientation of your appendages within the field of view.
Of course there are still difficulties with Leap Motion, such as the lack of haptic feedback in any sense – as you are quite literally patting the air when using it. However it's clearly quite an effective system and opens up alternatives for those wanting motion-tracking before Oculus releases its Touch controllers in the latter half of 2016.
You can buy a leap motion on Amazon right now for under £40 too.
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KitGuru Says: Leap Motion is certainly impressive and has applications way beyond VR. Gesture controls this intimate could make for some very interesting possibilities elsewhere. What do you think it could be used for?