A lot has been going on behind the scenes here at Leap Motion. Today we’re excited to finally share what we’ve been building for the last year – Orion.

We believe that technology has the power to augment human capabilities. In many ways it has, but in many ways we’re still separated from the vast worlds of data trapped behind glass screens. The rise of VR means that the old dreams of interacting with digital content on a physical level are coming to life. But to make that happen, you need a more natural interface. You need the power and complexity of the human hand.

This is why we built Orion, which is fundamentally different than anything we’ve released before. It’s part hardware, part software, built from the ground up to tackle the unique challenges of hand tracking for VR. It comes with a huge increase in the general capabilities of our tracking technology and a profound shift in the reliability guarantees of markerless motion tracking systems.

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Orion software represents a radical shift in how we do hand tracking. We’ve unlocked lower latency. Longer range. Better and faster hand recognition. Vastly improved robustness to cluttered backgrounds and ambient light. Even applications will be faster thanks to a new API that can be used initially in Unity. And we’re only getting started.

Because the shift is so stark, we’re making the software available today for Windows on the Leap Motion Controller. The beta preview comes with new demos like Blocks. Built on our upcoming interaction engine, Blocks shows how we can recreate nuanced physical interactions with digital objects in a way never before possible.

The Orion beta is just a first taste of what we have on the horizon, as we’re working directly with OEMs to embed Orion hardware into VR headsets. We can hardly wait to share it with you.

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Tomorrow at 2pm PT, Leap Motion CTO David Holz will be holding an AMA on Reddit to answer your questions about Orion, VR, and how we want to bring science fiction to life. We’ll update this post with more details – stay tuned to the blog or follow us on Twitter @LeapMotion. Until then, be sure to download the Orion beta and reach into a new reality.