Lauren Goode

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Motion-Control Maker Leap, Nearing Retail Launch, Turns Focus to Apps

Leap Motion, maker of impossibly precise motion-control hardware for personal computers, is getting ready for its retail launch by turning its focus toward apps.

Leap Motion

After announcing in October its plans to create a yet-unnamed app store where Leap users can purchase and download apps, the company said today that it is shipping out 10,000 Leap units to verified developers, to aid in the creation of more software applications that will broaden the device’s appeal.

Some of the fruits of Leap Motion’s developer relations efforts are already apparent: I’ve seen early versions of a few Leap apps — which range from 3-D molding to music apps to the just-announced game shown in the video below — and the demos are impressive.

If you haven’t seen the Leap in action yet, here’s how it works: All that motion-sensor tech is compressed into a tiny, two-inch device that you place in front of your desktop or laptop keyboard. (Right now, the sensor works with Macs, Windows 7 and Windows 8, with a focus on the latter operating system.) Acting as a kind of mini-Kinect, Microsoft’s popular motion-sensor device, the Leap lets you use your fingers as controls, waving them just a few inches in front of the screen to input, create, shape or play.

The Leap Motion sensor, positioned in front of a MacBook.

The Leap Motion sensor, positioned in front of a MacBook

Leap Motion says it has taken in more than $10 million in preorders across 140 countries since the device was first announced this past spring.

After bringing former Apple execs Andy Miller and Michael Zagorsek onboard to act as president and head of marketing, respectively, it’s no surprise that the start-up, co-founded by Michael Buckwald and David Holz, is placing emphasis on building solid relations with the software development community.

While Leap Motion has declined to give an exact date for when it will ship its $70 motion-sensor device, the company said that Leap should be hitting retailers in the first quarter of 2013. It’s also unclear exactly how many apps will be ready for launch.

Check out the video below for a glimpse of how Leap works with one of the new apps, a Jenga-like game called Block 54:


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