Leap Motion: A Manifesto For Immersive VR Experiences

26 janvier 2016   by Z Team

Leap Motion - leapmotion.com -  is a movement-tracking technology. Its announcement in 2013 was rather well-received, despite a lack of optimization observed by many testers. Indeed, the tracker was very sensitive and the product was not very user-friendly, all the while leaving much to be desired on a lot of dedicated applications. New versions improved certain aspects of the interaction with the device.

But why mention a technology released in 2013? In short: VR.

Virtual reality relies on providing an immersive experience. And using a mouse or a gamepad does not seem like the best solution to further that immersion. With VR (and therefore WebGL), you often ask yourself the following question: how will the user interact with the environment? In most cases, to avoid resorting to any “physical” control, the developers of a game or a VR experience will turn to visual control. That may end up being a good idea … Or it may not. For this type of interaction is not natural and quickly becomes exhausting.

VR & Interaction

That’s when Leap Motion comes into play! The deliberately refined interface of a VR experience is then completed by immersive and very intuitive commands: our own hands! Modeled on the screen, their slightest movements are recorded and computed by the device. Having those hands visible on the VR interface makes the experience more realistic and more precise. More natural.

Leap Motion opens up new possibilities for virtual reality. The box can clip onto any VR headset. This allows the headset to track hand movements and to model them on its screens. This technology is currently rather affordable, and is priced between 60 and 80 euros. Over time, it has also steadily increased in performance and has become user-friendlier.

Here is an example of a VR experience enhanced by the use of Leap Motion and other related devices, such as the XBOX 360 gamepad and a pc keyboard.

This project puts the user inside the cockpit of a spaceship to try out the various interactions and possible combinations in a successfully immersive VR experience. You can find a more detailed description of the project on this page.

Leap Motion 3D Jam competition

Launched on September 28, the Leap Motion 3D Jam project  aims at stimulating the creation of Leap Motion and VR experiences. During this online event, developers are given 6 weeks to create the best virtual reality project on desktop, mobile, etc. The competition is broken down into two separate categories: the AR/VR category which includes every experience designed for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, and the Open category which concerns all the other platforms.
This event is a good way to promote reflection and innovation around the combination of Leap Motion technology and VR.

(02.02.16 edit : the winners have been announced)

Here is small sample of projects that got our attention:

Lyra VR
In this experience, you can create a musical universe with your own hands. VR adds an immersive dimension to the creative process.


This project is a tribute to REZ, a videogame released in 2011 on both Dreamcast and Playstation 2. The goal here is to defeat your enemies and get around obstacles through hand motions.

We mentioned the value of combining Data Visualization with WebGL (in our article entitled Data Visualization and WebGL). The creators of this experience take things a step further and give the user a way to discover a world of data accessible through VR and Leap Motion.

Leap Motion, a natural ally of VR?
Leap Motion looks set to become a complementary device of choice for VR experiences. However, the interaction between Leap Motion and virtual reality headsets still needs improvement to allow for a complete and smoother immersion. Leap Motion needs to be user-friendly if it wants to appeal to a bigger audience and convince them that using a mouse or a keyboard becomes a hindrance in those types of experiences. 

It is not hard to picture that in a near future VR could be systematically combined with Leap Motion in order to create less restrictive and more immersive experiences. With a system like that, you can forget about passive VR games and finally enjoy real interaction! With VR headsets (and in particular those compatible with smartphones) set to hit the market, we can see the emergence of a new era for the web, an era of immersion and interactivity. 
logo ultranoir
logo ultranoir