Leap Motion Inc.
Michael Buckwald (23) CEO, Co-founder
David Holz (25) CTO, Co-founder
Leap Motion (founded in 2010) is an American company that develops and markets motion – sensing technology that has the potential to shape and direct the future of human/computer interaction. Leap is a 3D motion control system. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements. The philosophy behind Leap Motion is very much the concept of enabling people to ‘reach into their computers’ to interact with things in the real world. The hardware is the size of a flash drive, is a tiny device that connects to the computer and turns the area above that computer into a 3D interaction space. The Leap Motion controller can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter. The device picks up the movement of your hand and interprets gestures as commands within the application. For example, clenching your fist allows you to ‘pull’ the world around you. Pointing assertively at an object ‘selects’ it and then snaps it to your virtual hand’s orientation, allowing you to manipulate it in virtual space.
In July 2013 the company rolled out the product in to the USA. Since then the product has rolled into about 12 countries. Globally the Leap Motion device is in the hands of 3000 retailers. The developer community base has grown from 40,000 – 200,000 developers within six months since the launch back in July. At launch there was about 50 apps and that’s grown to 160. Essentially the company would like to see Leap motion embedded in devices; such as a tablet that would have Leap installed that allows for the user to interact with the screen content in a 3D space.
CEO Michael Buckwald co-founded the company in 2010 with his friend David Holz. Michael Buckwald first developed the technology Leap Motion in 2008, while David Holz was studying for a Ph.D. in mathematics. David Holz decided to leave his Ph.D program to join in the business venture following an initial angel investment. In 2011 the company gained the attention of venture capitalist investors from which 1.3 million seed funding was raised. A second and third round of financing in 2012 and 2013 brought a cumulative $42.75 million of funding from investors.
Moving forward the company has plans for Leap Motion technology integration with other products to appeal to new and emerging mass markets. The Co-founders foresee the reality where users can use leap motion technology on their smartphone or tablet without carrying a peripheral device. To make this a reality the company is partnering with other original equipment manufactures (OEM) with the aim to embed the technology in other OEM products. The company appears to have a solid developer community base consisting of creative and innovative people who have applied to be a part of the leap developer program to create apps that will have a lot of mass-market appeal and that are built to work well with Leap.
Regarding my own entrepreneurial potential this analysis of Leap Motion has inspired me to further develop my own ideas for non-verbal AR/VR communication technologies. We are just at the very beginning and what Leap Motion technology offers is a very different form of interaction. Motion-sensing technology is so crucial for the future, and there’s so much that’s possible. We’re really at the very tip of the iceberg and that’s okay because it’s a very exciting place to be as an emerging AR education paradigm shift analyst/developer.