Leap Motion Orion is next-gen hand tracking for VR

We’ve been promised that this is the year that virtual reality finally takes off. This piece of kit adds gesture control to VR headsets, making them more intuitive and hence more immersive than ever.

The Orion is made by Leap Motion, a firm that’s spent years trying to add gesture controls to virtual reality. The firm’s previous hardware consisted of motion sensor peripherals that you had to strap to a VR headset, which wasn’t exactly ideal. Plus it ran the same software designed for desktop PCs, which was Leap Motion’s previous focus. But the Orion has been built from the ground up with VR in mind.

According to Leap Motion, Orion is much more accurate and gives a more lifelike experience than previous attempts. It has lower latency, longer range, better and faster hand recognition, and it’s better at dealing with cluttered backgrounds and ambient light.

It consists of both hardware and software. Leap Motion says it’s working with third-parties to embed the Orion hardware into virtual reality headsets, and some could launch as soon as early this year. Meanwhile, it’s released a beta of the Orion software – essentially an extension of Leap Motion’s Interaction Engine – for Windows on the Leap Motion Controller. This beta has a bunch of demos, like Blocks, which sees you creating, stacking, and flinging boxes around a 3D Tron-style landscape.

You can see this in the video at the foot of this story.

Read more: 9 awesome virtual reality experiences everyone needs to try

Orion is reportedly so accurate it can even track hands it can’t see. Make a fist with your hand out of your eye line, and Orion will know. So no rude gestures.

According to Leap Motion, this technological advancement will benefit untethered mobile VR the most. Get ready for your hands to become the controller.

Truly, VR is coming of age.