Leap Motion controllers to ship in mid-May for $80

The innovative gesture-control system includes software and hardware. The company will launch Airspace, its app store, in mid-May as well.

Leap Motion, the innovative gesture control system, will begin shipping on May 13. Leap Motion

Leap Motion, which has developed an innovative motion-control system that's accurate to the hundredth of a millimeter, said today that it will begin shipping its controller on May 13.

The controller, which gives users the ability to control what's on their computers with touch-free pinch-to-zoom gestures, will sell for $80 -- though customers who have already pre-ordered it will pay $70 -- and will ship to pre-order customers on May 13, and be available to everyone else on May 19.

The device will be available in the U.S. only through Leap Motion's Web site, and at Best Buy's stores and Web site and wherever Asus computer bundles are sold. BestBuy.com will begin taking pre-orders today, Leap Motion said.

"We've assessed where the developer ecosystem is, and where our global logistics and supply chain is," Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald told CNET, and want to "make sure it lives up to everything [developers and customers] and we want it to be -- an immediately magical and transformative experience."

Leap Motion's controller is accurate to the hundredth of a millimeter. Leap Motion

Buckwald wouldn't say exactly how many units Leap Motion is producing, but did say that the number of pre-orders was already in the hundreds of thousands. The company recently closed a $30 million funding round largely in order to significantly ramp up production.

App store
A big part of Leap Motion's plan all along has been to encourage third-party developers to build applications on top of the controller. Already it has given out tens of thousands of developer kits, and the company plans to launch an app store, which it is calling Airspace at the same time the controllers ship. Leap Motion will soon be taking submissions from developers who want their applications featured in the store, Buckwald said. Developers will keep 70 percent of revenues generated from the store, with the company holding on to the remaining 30 percent.

That model mirrors that of Apple's App Store, which makes sense given that Leap Motion COO Andy Miller -- who funded the company as a partner at Highland Capital Partners -- is a former Apple senior vice president who reported directly to Steve Jobs.

Buckwald said he didn't know how many apps Airspace would launch with, but did say that there will be a wide variety available through the store, ranging in genre from games to music to art to productivity tools. While many apps will come from small developers, some will come from top-tier software developers including Autodesk, Corel, Disney Interactive, and the Weather Channel. The controller itself will also come pre-loaded with a few specially-chosen apps.

Correction, 11:30 a.m. PT: This story originally misstated the level of accuracy of Leap Motion's controller.

 

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