Leap Motion nabs $50M for its VR/AR hand-tracking tech


Headset-based VR and AR may be a bit slower out of the gates
than many had hoped, but investors are still pouring money into
startups looking to change how consumers interact with the
digital world.

Leap Motion, a hand-tracking company based in San Francisco,
has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by clients
advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, the WSJ reports. The startup has raised nearly
$95 million to date.

The startup, backed by some of Silicon Valley’s top venture
firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund, has
long billed its hand-tracking technologies as a replacement for
the venerated mouse and keyboard, but the seven-year-old
company has struggled to find interface problems for its
technology to solve.

Three-dimensional hand-tracking always seemed to be an ill fit
for interacting with objects projected on 2D desktop displays,
but now with virtual and augmented reality, Leap Motion is
aiming to master human-computer interaction on a platform that
no one has really mastered to date.

Gathering human input for VR/AR headsets has been a tough
challenge for hardware manufacturers already steeped in tough
challenges, but Leap Motion has been slow to attract
manufacturer support despite the sophistication of their
hand-tracking platform, which reproduces a virtual skeletal
model of the hand using computer vision that updates depending
on a user’s hand positions.

Gaming-oriented VR companies like HTC, Sony and Facebook’s
Oculus have opted for traditional handheld controllers on
current generation hardware, but Oculus has already shown that
it is experimenting with glove-like controllers. The companies
behind AR headsets like HoloLens, Meta and Magic Leap have
meanwhile seemed to default to hand-tracking tech, though each
appears to be building its own solutions. So far, the company’s
most prominent partnership success has been one with Qualcomm
on a headset reference design for OEMs.

The company’s focus has largely been centered on consumers, but
in a blog post announcing today’s funding the
company detailed that it will be looking to “broaden its reach
into new commercial and enterprise applications including
education, healthcare, and industrial training simulation.” The
company also announced it will be opening a new office in
Shanghai.


Featured Image: Leap Motion

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