An inevitable effect of the renewed mixed reality and Apple hype is sure to be refueling interest in other devices. And that $3499 price also reframes the value of, well, nearly everything. Right on cue, what’s back? The hand tracking Leap Motion, now from the redubbed Ultraleap, at $139 – a device musicians and media artists had already exploited to great effect.

The new Arturia keyboard tells you that this is 2023.

$139 and you still get a slick launch video.

Touch-less hand tracking had powerful functionality years ago on the Leap Motion. That simple computer accessory interpreted hand gestures in 3D space. It might not have lived up to the initial hype – look, the human brain is very, very sophisticated. But with practice, it could be a powerful instrument. Here are a couple of examples of that:

Check GECO, the app in that second video:

And yeah, that’s Geert Bevin of MPE fame and now associated with the Moog iOS apps. (Geert seems to have indicated interest in reviving this tool!)

This also means the return of Leap Motion support on macOS, which had disappeared for some years:

And the new hardware version – Leap Motion 2 – has various improvements (apart from the improvement of being available again):

  • Increased field of view
  • Better image resolution
  • 30% smaller, more lightweight (see below)
  • Lower power consumption

Indeed, the Apple Vision Pro demo with those icons gave some a serious sense of deja vu. This is that interface using Leap Motion and a headset some years ago:

Back in 2023, the new version was impressing VR aficionados:

To make the tracking capability work, you employ Ultraleap Gemini, which you can connect to other tools and platforms – including Unreal and Unity:

You can make use of VR headsets; there’s a partnership with MRTK and OpenXR on the development library side, and with their announcement at VR/xR/AR event AWE, they also touted connections to the likes of Pico, Digilens, and Lenovo. But you don’t need that necessarily – a screen can substitute for goggles, and musicians made use of this for sound only interfaces, without even a screen.

Here’s the new hardware, now on preorder. (They also make the Ultraleap 3Di, which is specifically tailored for installation / museum use.)

Downloads here – Windows, Mac, and Linux – though note they’re still lagging on Monterey and Ventura support on macOS; hopefully that arrives soon:

The new form factor is really cute:

Also worth a read, they talk about why infrared tracking works best.

I’m sure we’ll see some in our community snap this up. Just think of how many Leap Motion 2 devices you can have for the price of the Mac Pro wheels. (Sorry. Sort of.)

And yes, this means that everything I said in the accessibility comments on Apple Vision Pro also apply here.