Razer's OSVR virtual reality headset will get Leap Motion's hand-tracking tech

razer OSVR HMD

Razer's new OSVR promises to make virtual reality open source and democratic.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

Oculus VR wants to develop the perfect virtual reality game controller before launching the consumer version of the Oculus Rift. Meanwhile Razer's OSVR headsets, which are shipping to developers in June, will offer an experimental option that completely replaces game controllers with natural movement.

On Wednesday, Leap Motion announced that Razer's OSVR Hacker Dev Kit will have an optional faceplate with Leap Motion's hand-tracking technology built in.

This is the second big push into VR for Leap Motion, ehich also announced a VR mount for the Oculus Rift last August. At the time, the company said it hoped to partner with VR headset makers to make Leap Motion hand tracking a standard feature.

Why this matters: The whole point of virtual reality technology is to make it feel like you're in a totally different world, be it a game or a virtual movie theater. While most gamers are used to console-style controllers, that's still an artificial way to interact with an immersive experience. If Leap Motion's hand tracking works well enough it could make interactions in virtual reality feel more natural without the distraction of greasy thumbs stumbling over the X and Y buttons.

Hand tracking wouldn't be perfect for every gaming situation, mind you. It would get pretty tiring on the arms to continually hack away with a virtual sword instead of jamming a few button combos with your thumbs. Nevertheless, the promise of more freely interacting with virtual worlds is an attractive prospect.

More than OSVR

Leap Motion says it has big plans for integrating hand tracking technology into VR headsets. The company's technology will support major gaming engines, including Unreal and Unity.

Leap Motion also said OSVR is the first of a "future lineup of head mounted displays that will feature Leap Motion’s technology built in." It's not clear if that means Leap Motion is already lining up other partners (such as Oculus or Valve and HTC) or if it just hopes to work with companies building VR gear.

Leap Motion's faceplate will be available in Razer's OSVR online store in May and will ship in June.

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