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Leap Motion aims to get a running start

The hot startup will ship its 3D gesture-control technology on July 22. But first, it's letting thousands of developers prepare to hit the ground at full stride.

Leap Motion, the innovative gesture control system, will begin shipping on July 22. The company is opening up its beta to more than 10,000 developers, and by the end of this week, it will allow anyone access to its developer portal.
Leap Motion

Leap Motion will open its developer portal this week, allowing anyone interested in designing tools for its 3D gesture control system to get an advanced look at how to work with the technology.

The startup is also opening up its beta to more than 10,000 early-access developers who have been waiting for the opportunity to build applications for the system.

On July 22, Leap Motion will ship its first product, a thumb-drive-sized device that plugs into a USB port on either Macs or Windows PCs, giving users a way to control their computer by making hand gestures. The technology is designed to be accurate to a hundredth of a millimeter.

Developers who are part of the beta, or those who access the developer portal, will see that the company is offering two APIs that it had not previously disclosed publicly, one that tracks users' palms, even when they turn their hands over, and another designed to track users when they grip with their hands. Developers who were already working with Leap Motion had previously been alerted to the two APIs.

In a briefing last week, Leap Motion explained that it has broken its Windows 8 and Mac OS X functionality into two sets of operations that developers can build around. First, there is core functionality, CEO Michael Buckwald said, which includes basic tools like pointing and clicking, scrolling, and zooming. Advanced, or expert, controls will allow users to do anything they can do with a Windows 8 touch screen, or a track pad on a Mac.

The company also said that there will be around 100 apps available in its app store, Airspace, at launch. That number, however, is divided about evenly among tools that have been built for Windows and Mac operating systems.

Tens of thousands of developers have expressed an interest in designing for the Leap system, with genres like games, music, architecture, medical, and others topping the list of most popular tools.

Some of those developers are likely to benefit from the new Leap Fund, a $25 million pool of money being offered by Highland Capital Partners to those working in the Leap Motion ecosystem.

Leap Motion has said that it has received hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for its device. It has also struck bundling deals with Hewlett-Packard and Asus.