Leap Motion lays off 10 percent of workforce, motion gesture add-on misses sales targets

First announced in May 2012, the Leap motion gesture PC add-on from startup company Leap Motion got a lot of attention from the tech press before its release in July 2013, thanks to its potential for using hand and finger movements to control many desktop and Windows 8 actions. This week, it was revealed Leap Motion is making some economic cuts in face of lower-than-expected sales of the devices.

TechCrunch reports that the company has now laid off 10 percent of its workforce, mostly in marketing and sales. The article claims that Leap Motion thought it might sell as many as 5 million units of the $79.99 add-on in its first year but so far only 500,000 of the Leap devices have been shipped.

Mixed reviews of the Leap didn't help sales, with most saying that while it had a lot of promise, the software failed to reach expectations. TechCrunch says that Leap Motion is now working on version 2.0 of the Leap software, which will include some kind of visual representation of a user's hand on the screen itself. There's no word on when this software upgrade will be released.

Leap Motion's hardware is also being embedded inside a few HP notebooks, and Leap Motion claims more of those partnerships are in the works. The company is also looking to expand outside the PC business. However, the company's first couple of years show once again that having a promising hardware device doesn't always translate into instant success.

Source: TechCrunch | Image via Leap Motion

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Thing is, there are still too many folks that are into single-mode thinking - even when the OS doesn't fit it (and it's not just Windows 8, either), they will do their darndest to fit the square peg into the round hole that is their thought process. (The same sort of thinking applies ot keyboards for iOS - and Android, for that matter.)

"Would need to be built into the OS's HID system to be really useful."

Leap Motion hardware integration

I think the Leap Motion should continue trying to integrate their devices into more OEMs. The HP Envy 17 notebook has the Leap Motion sensor built in. Similarly, 4 eye tracking companies are also trying to negotiate for hardware integration right now. An external eye tracker device can cost $99, but if manufacturers of smartphone, tablet, notebook, and laptop modify the existing built-in camera in these devices, and add an upgraded sensor, it's supposed to only add $5 to the manufacturing cost.

I don't know what the cost of hardware integration for the Leap Motion was, but if it's anything like eye-tracking integration, you might as well take it if it's going to be that cheap.

Leap Motion as the main input

I think one of the problems with extended use as the main input would be getting some Gorilla arm syndrome:
> "failure to understand the ergonomics of vertically mounted touchscreens for prolonged use. By this proposition the human arm held in an unsupported horizontal position rapidly becomes fatigued and painful".

It's not as bad as a touch UI in a desktop environment, where you actually have to reach out, and touch the screen, but it could still be a problem.

Leap Motion + eye tracking

Assuming a Leap Motion and eye tracker sensor were already built in, I wonder if both of them could make a good combination. I would use my eyes to first highlight the interface element, and then I would train the Leap Motion to recognize me lightly tapping a specific area of my desk to execute a “click-where-I'm-looking”.

I've also seen other gesture devices like the Myo armband, Fin (thumb ring), and Ring (a ring), and I'm not sure how many gestures I could remember.

If the eye tracker is the mouse, then you only need a few gestures for “click-where-I'm-looking”, “double click-where-I'm-looking”, “begin drag-at-where-I'm-looking”, etc..

Example: zooming-in on a map

I like the Leap Motion for zooming. One way of zooming in map software is to reach for your mouse, move the cursor to the spot that you want to zoom, and then continuously move the scroll wheel. Another way would be to just look at your target (eye tracker), and then do a quick air pinch-zoom gesture with the Leap.

(Of course, you still use the keyboard and mouse. You're just adding two more inputs, gaze and gestures, to your arsenal).

JeffKang said,
"Would need to be built into the OS's HID system to be really useful."

Leap Motion hardware integration

I think the Leap Motion should continue trying to integrate their devices into more OEMs. The HP Envy 17 notebook has the Leap Motion sensor built in. Similarly, 4 eye tracking companies are also trying to negotiate for hardware integration right now. An external eye tracker device can cost $99, but if manufacturers of smartphone, tablet, notebook, and laptop modify the existing built-in camera in these devices, and add an upgraded sensor, it's supposed to only add $5 to the manufacturing cost.

I don't know what the cost of hardware integration for the Leap Motion was, but if it's anything like eye-tracking integration, you might as well take it if it's going to be that cheap.

Leap Motion as the main input

I think one of the problems with extended use as the main input would be getting some Gorilla arm syndrome:
> "failure to understand the ergonomics of vertically mounted touchscreens for prolonged use. By this proposition the human arm held in an unsupported horizontal position rapidly becomes fatigued and painful".

It's not as bad as a touch UI in a desktop environment, where you actually have to reach out, and touch the screen, but it could still be a problem.

Leap Motion + eye tracking

Assuming a Leap Motion and eye tracker sensor were already built in, I wonder if both of them could make a good combination. I would use my eyes to first highlight the interface element, and then I would train the Leap Motion to recognize me lightly tapping a specific area of my desk to execute a “click-where-I'm-looking”.

I've also seen other gesture devices like the Myo armband, Fin (thumb ring), and Ring (a ring), and I'm not sure how many gestures I could remember.

If the eye tracker is the mouse, then you only need a few gestures for “click-where-I'm-looking”, “double click-where-I'm-looking”, “begin drag-at-where-I'm-looking”, etc..

Example: zooming-in on a map

I like the Leap Motion for zooming. One way of zooming in map software is to reach for your mouse, move the cursor to the spot that you want to zoom, and then continuously move the scroll wheel. Another way would be to just look at your target (eye tracker), and then do a quick air pinch-zoom gesture with the Leap.

(Of course, you still use the keyboard and mouse. You're just adding two more inputs, gaze and gestures, to your arsenal).

All of this conjecture is great and all, but its reminiscent of the hype around it at the beginning. It's an HID in its own league and it is limited. It provides a little utility but it doesn't really solve any major problem. All of these new experimental HID's need to have baked in OS support, imo for people to care. Hunting down supporting applications will always keep it out of mainstream.

In any event they have a huge wall to break through to see wide adoption. Figuring they were going to sell 5M was a pipe dream at best.

Looked like cool tech. Always thought it was going this direction. Would need to be built into the OS's HID system to be really useful. And I just don't know how it would work :|

i did the pre-order but never paid when it came around. My card had expired by the time it was ready. So i just never paid it. Glad i didn't get it now to be honest, i can see it being useful in operating theatres and the like. And it might look cool in some movies or something.

McKay said,
I bought into the pre-order hype.

Ditto. I try it out every now and then to see if it's improved but it just isn't as intuitive as it needs to be. The movements you make have no relation to the screen itself, meaning most of the time you have to guess where you're trying to point.

It has potential but at the moment it's simply an amusing gadget that has no real world use.

McKay said,
I put mine away because it would go haywire every time I would type on my keyboard.

I had a similar experience. I played with it for a week but it made me Leap back to my keyboard and mouse.

I was quite excited about this product and then one day I bought it from Best Buy. I was quite disappointed with the functionality of this product. It was highly unintuitive and did not work with any other application except some of the apps you download from leap motion website and just move those particles around. Another biggest gripe was that it was not very intuitive and efficient to recognize fingers. It was very limited to its range so you can't move things around from a distance.

It would have been nice if it worked like a simple substitute as a mouse. Like i sit on my couch and use my one finger as a mouse to surf webpage or move things around. I had returned it next day though.

Leap Motion needs a way to embed this into the OS. I was quite upset to discover that it required its own little "mini application" to run.

Dot Matrix said,
Leap Motion needs a way to embed this into the OS. I was quite upset to discover that it required its own little "mini application" to run.

A third-party solution will probably never offer the OS-level integration a thing like this requires. Of course there's also the risk of an OS update breaking functionality with the company unable or unwilling to update their software at some point.

Most of the 500,000 sold were probably pre-orders. Leap did make a slick promo a year before the device hit the marketplace which enticed me to pre-order. After I got it I soon discovered how useless it was. I never used it again.

They thought they'd sell 5 million of these in a year? Must be on some strong crack to come up with those figures...

Good. It is a cheap copy of Kinect anyway and a CPU hog. As Scott Hanselman said, leap motion: amazing, revolutionary, useless lol

We sell this product where I work and it doesn't sell unless it's on promotion where the price drops by £20 every so often, and even then the sales aren't too great with it.

The thing is there just is NO use for this thing. People would buy if it was low priced as the novelty that it is, but that will never happen as it's electronically a well designed thing.

jamesyfx said,
The thing is there just is NO use for this thing.
Funny how this news comes just as we get to know of Amazon's big plans for gesture control in their smartphones. Nothing but gimmicks.