Leap Motion Opens Up Beta Access To Developers In Preparation For Its July 22 Launch

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Leap Motion is about a month away from shipping its 3-D gesture controller to consumers, and it wants to make sure that there are plenty of apps for users to play with once it does. With that in mind, the company is opening up access to its Airspace app store for any developers who are already testing out the device, and it will further open its developer portal to those who don’t already have access to it.

In preparation for its launch, Leap Motion had more than 65,000 people apply to be part of its developer program. It gave early access to about 10,000 developers, shipping out units and letting them sign up for its developer portal. Now those lucky 10,000 will be able to try out the first apps that will be available through its Airspace app store.

Later this week, developers will get access to Airspace and the first apps that have been developed and approved for use with the Leap Motion gesture controller. To do so, they’ll need the Airspace Home desktop launcher, which will house all the apps that users download that are compatible with the controller.

In addition to providing early access to its first generation of apps, Leap Motion is also opening up its developer portal to interested parties who weren’t part of the early access program. That will allow those who haven’t yet played with the device to at least familiarize themselves with the company’s developer tools and maybe start building apps ahead of the public launch next month.

Leap Motion has clearly been putting a lot of effort into getting developers — and apps — ready on the platform ahead of its consumer release. There are currently about 50 apps available on Airspace, and Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald says he expects that number to double by the time consumers get their hands on the device.

In addition to the company’s own internal developer program, Leap Motion investor Highland Capital Partners is looking to court developers for the device as well. The venture firm has established a $25 million Leap Fund, which it will use to invest in entrepreneurs and startups building interesting applications that take advantage of the 3-D motion controller.

Pre-order units of Leap Motion are expected to ship on July 22, and the device will also be available in Best Buy stores for $79 about a week after that. While he wouldn’t go into specifics about the number of units that have been pre-ordered, Buckwald said the company expects to have “hundreds of thousands” of users from around the world at launch. Indeed, initial interest has been truly global, with more than 100 countries represented in its pre-orders.