Just a few years ago, 3D TVs were all the rage in the consumer technology space, and now it appears that the new focus is on virtual reality. VR headsets are coming out of the works like the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, and now Leap Motion is looking to make the VR experience more immersive with its hand-tracking technology.
While you have been able to attach a Leap Motion sensor to a VR headset in the past, it made for a clumsy and bulky experience — not to mention that you had to purchase two separate devices and a $20 mount. However, Leap Motion announced today that is has partnered with Razer to integrate its technology directly into Open-Source Virtual Reality Hacker Development Kit (OSVR HDK).
OSVR HDK with Leap Motion Faceplate
This pairing is made possible through the use of the faceplate system on the HDK. This allows for a streamlined, modular Leap Motion faceplate to attach directly to the front of the HDK giving it the appearance of one single unit. The Leap Motion hardware OSVR motion plugin is embedded within the faceplate and interfaces directly with the HDK.
Leap Motion explains that the sweet combination allows developers to “write code for a single platform that works across multiple hardware devices, and consumers get a consistently smooth experience.”
“By letting the user connect directly with the VR environment, hand tracking allows virtual reality to be as natural and intuitive as interacting with the real world, giving the user a powerful sense of presence and immersion,” said Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald. “We're pleased to partner with OSVR to bring our technology to the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit, helping developers enable the true potential of VR."
The "old" Leap Motion sensor with mounting kit
I must say that the potential for such an arrangement is very promising. As someone who has experienced gaming while using a virtual headset paired with physical controllers, the experience is a bit odd and disorienting to say the least. But by allowing for a more natural way to interface with games using your hands as input, the “perception” of reality can be further enhanced.
The OSVR HDK will be available for pre-order in May for $199, but pricing has not yet been announced for the Leap Motion faceplate.