Leap Motion, Inc. is the primary creator for motion tracking technology based on natural input in augmented and virtual reality. They recently announced raising $50 million in Series C funding led by clients advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“Virtual and augmented reality technologies are evolving at a rapid pace, drawing significant attention from investors,” said Larry Unrein, Global Head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Private Equity Group. “Leap Motion’s suite of hardware and software designed for headsets falls squarely into this category, offering natural input through hand and finger tracking that can be integrated into any headset.”
This funding will be used to enable global expansion, especially in Asia. There is a plan for opening an office in Shanghai, China. Money will also be used to broaden the company’s reach into new applications to aid in the healthcare, industrial training, and education sectors. As part of the round, Global Head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Private Equity Group, Lawrence Unrein, is joining the board of directors at Leap Motion.
“Natural input through full hand tracking is inseparable and fundamental to the future of VR/AR, and Leap Motion is a principal driver of its widespread adoption,” said Michael Buckwald, CEO and Co-founder of Leap Motion. “In much the same way as the touchscreen sparked the mobile revolution, Leap Motion is playing a transformative role in the development of human interface technology for VR/AR. As a result, the industry as a whole is on the verge of a similar moment of exponential growth.”
Leap Motion History
The startup was founded in 2010, backed by top venture firms in Silicon Valley, and has since become a leader in motion tracking for both VR and AR. Leading technology companies like Qualcomm are known to use Leap Motion products, as are academic researchers, innovation labs, and industrial designers across the world. The applications range from AR and VR to desktop and IoT to cover a large range.
In late 2016, Leap Motion announced it was working on a mobile VR platform and in June of 2017 the Leaf App Store was retired, while motion controller support was added to its Interaction Engine. The company has long billed their technology as a replacement for mouse and keyboard, but have had problems finding problems that the technology will solve.
Gaming VR companies like Oculus, Sony, and HTC has largely opted for handheld controllers on current hardware but Oculus has done some experimentation with glove type controllers. As far as AR headsets like Meta and Magic Leap go, hand tracking tech is more common but each company is building their own solutions.
While the company’s focus has traditionally been on consumers, a blog post about the new funding comments that the company is looking to “broaden its reach into new commercial and enterprise applications including education, healthcare, and industrial training simulation.”
It will be exciting to see where the new funding takes Leap Motion in regards to implementing their technology; hopefully they will find luck in their new endeavors.