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Leap Motion motion control tech to be bundled with Asus PCs

The San Francisco startup, which developed innovative motion control technology, also announces a $30 million B round, which it will use to ramp up manufacturing.

With the Leap, from Leap Motion, developers will be able to create apps that can translate the movement of users' hands -- and even their fingers -- onto the screen.
Leap Motion

Leap Motion, which created an innovative gesture control technology that measures users' movements to an accuracy of a hundredth of a millimeter, has struck a deal to bundle its Leap device and app store with a series of Asus computers.

According to Michael Buckwald, CEO of the San Francisco startup, the Asus deal -- under which the computer giant will package the Leap device with high-end laptops and premium all-in-one PCs, and pre-install the Leap app store on those computers -- is just the first partnership of its kind. Similar deals with other computer makers, or even smartphone manufacturers, are possible in the future, Buckwald said.

Leap Motion's Leap device will be bundled in certain Asus computers in 2013. But the technology itself can fit in much smaller devices, including smartphones. Leap Motion

Although the Asus deal means the Leap will be bundled with the company's computers, Buckwald said that there's no reason the Leap technology couldn't be physically integrated with computers, or even smartphones. "The cameras are actually very small," Buckwald told CNET. "The actual sensors and software [can] fit in even the smallest form factors."

Buckwald said Leap Motion has been talking to a number of consumer electronics companies about further bundling or integration deals, although none have yet been announced. Leap Motion plans on releasing the Leap and unveiling its app store sometime in "early 2013."

But with the Asus deal in place, and with strong interest from consumers and developers, Leap Motion is currently ramping up manufacturing of the Leap. Buckwald said that it is making "between hundreds of thousands and millions of Leaps."

To do so, the company needed additional capital, and today it announced that it has recently closed a $30 million B round, led by Founders Fund and Highland Capital Partners. To date, Leap Motion has raised about $45 million.

When Leap Motion first announced its technology, it expected the Leap would be ideal for industries like surgery, gaming, architecture, design, engineering, and more. But almost from the get-go, some of the most interesting projects developers were suggesting involved things like automatically translating sign language. Now, it has given more than 10,000 of the devices to developers. And more than 40,000 people have applied to be part of the company's developer program.

Some developers proposed using the Leap to fly planes or drive cars, or to support physical rehabilitation and special needs. More than 400 people suggested using the Leap in computer-aided design software -- the same computing challenge that led Leap co-founder and CTO David Holz to begin creating the technology in 2008.

Leap Motion has said that 14 percent of developers want to do gaming-related applications, while 12 percent want to use the technology for music or video applications, 11 percent for art and design, 8 percent for science and medicine, and 6 percent for robotics. At launch, the company plans an Apple-style app store, and more than 90 percent of developers asking for software development kits want to sell their work through such a store. All told, developers have proposed more than 40,000 different applications.