Leap Motion sees 26,000-strong developer interest: Ships February 2013

Leap Motion, the startup looking to bring motion-tracking 200x more accurate than Kinect to desktop and mobile, has revealed the gush of developer interest in the gadget, with early units expected to ship within months. Over 26,000 curious developers have applied for free Leap Motion units by last week, the company says, with prospective applications including gaming, robotics, and CAD software. "We've already seen developers propose exciting applications for the Leap that we hadn't even imagined" CEO Michael Buckwald said of the process.

Developers from 143 countries have applied, with the bulk – 42-percent – coming from the US and almost a quarter from Canada. More than 1,5000 applications apparently come from researchers and students in colleges and universities, with Harvard, MIT and Stanford all getting name-checked.

Leap Motion 3D demo:

[vms 137c3b6782e562794c2f]

Leap hasn't detailed any specific projects, presumably to allow the developers themselves to keep the element of surprise until launch, but does say that "use ideas from developers include translating sign language, driving a car or airplane, supporting physical rehabilitation and special needs, manipulating photos and videos, creating new art forms and thousands more." The free developer units will begin shipping "in the next few months."

Leap Motion 3D feature walkthrough:

[vms dd25f5a45fca73cad64b]

Meanwhile, pre-orders for the consumer version continue to be accepted, with the original winter release window being narrowed down to February 2013 according to the order page. The Leap is priced at $69.99, though supplies are expected to be limited.

Leap's system connects via USB, and musters a four cubic foot area above the desk where individual finger movements can be tracked to within 1/100th of a millimeter. Its magic, the company claims, is in how the algorithms track and process those movements, rather than the hardware itself which is relatively affordable compared to camera-based alternatives.