We learned so much on the ground with our developer community in 2014. Translating soothing gestures into meditative brainwaves on EEGs. Springing drones to life. Navigating new ways of thinking about user interfaces in VR.

You’ve built incredible things this year, and along the way, we’ve based many of the experiments, resources, and examples found in the Developer Portal on your feedback and feature requests. We can’t wait to keep that conversation going in the New Year. And now, for a bit of inspiration, behold – our 2014 Shortlist of Virtual Superlatives:

Most Uncanny Robert Downey Jr. Impression

“What part of ‘Invincible Iron Man’ didn’t you understand?” Last June, Minko revved up their free and open source engine to 3D render Tony Stark’s famously indomitable exoskeleton – holographic style. The experience used an Oculus DK1 (vintage!) to give users the experience of interacting with an actual hologram in a virtual room.

Minko’s demo marked one of the earliest projects to use our v2 skeletal tracking, which launched the month before. Here’s hoping the rest of the Avengers assemble in our Rifts in the new year.

Best Thing George Takei Punched in the Face

From virtual car dealerships to social ecommerce, our pals over at Chaotic Moon really crushed it this year in the VR department. However, one experience rose above them all. While in the neighborhood filming Takei’s Take in Austin, the incomparable George Takei swung by the studio to try Shark Punch – an underwater virtual reality experience that enables you to, well, you get the idea.

Most Transcendent We’ve Ever Felt About Building the 3D Web

One of the best things about having our HQ nestled right in the heart of SOMA is that on any given night of the week, there’s always a new meetup group assembling to feast on the developer trifecta – pizza, beer, and ideas. While we love to chart new territory, the monthly SFHTML5 meetup at Google SF holds a special place in our hearts.

Last January, Leap Motion Experience Engineer Isaac Cohen delivered a lively code sermon for an audience of over 500 HTML5 enthusiasts about how to create rich 3D universes for your browser – your “happy place” – in WebGL.

If you’re a creative coder working on web experiences, consider this a “must watch” on our developer syllabus. The entire event stream is available above; Isaac’s portion kicks off at 2:28:00.

Most Game-Changing Tool for Self-Expression

Of the ten startups selected to participate in the first-ever LEAP.AXLR8R, team MotionSavvy’s undertaking stood out as particularly ambitious – to completely transform the way that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing express their thoughts and feelings to the rest of the world.

As individuals who use American Sign Language to communicate themselves, it’s safe to say that the founding team possesses a nuanced understanding of what a gesture-based sign language interpreter must feature in order to change a deaf person’s life. After producing a promising prototype for the AXLR8R Demo Day, the team went on to successfully meet their crowdfunding goal to support the inaugural distribution wave of their first product: UNI.

Designed to translate sign language into audio and spoken word into text, UNI allows the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to take charge of their professional and personal relationships. Head to MotionSavvy’s product page to find out more about the team and stay in the loop on pre-order information. This is one to watch in 2015.

Most Intriguing VR Experience Designed for the Classroom

This fall, as an entrant in our global 3D Jam presented by Indiecade, Sightline creator Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík delivered a brand-new way to wrap our hands around our world. World of Comenius represents just the beginning of what Frooxius envisions as a much larger educational infoverse – combining Oculus Rift and Leap Motion to explore new methods of learning and communication.

The VR community’s enchantment with the demo rests in several fundamental arenas. It’s visually stunning. It’s uniquely utilitarian in a development space that remains, at this point in time, largely experimental. It features a diverse set of features and interactions.

But perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates a proven understanding of how to build intuitive, highly reactive sets of interconnected interfaces in a virtual world. We couldn’t be more excited to see what comes next.

What was your favorite community project of 2014 – and what are you looking to see in the New Year? Later this month, we’ll be sharing more of our roadmap for VR and beyond, so let us know your questions and ideas in the comments! 

Formerly the head commander of social media at Leap Motion, Kate is now the Editorial Manager at Lily Robotics.

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