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Engineer Thursday - Tearing Apart the Leap Motion

We got our hands on something cool - let's destroy it!

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The Leap Motion is a pretty brilliant new technology that allows user to control their devices (like a laptop) by waving their hands, moving their fingers, picking things up and putting them down, and other intuitive hand motions. Right now, the device is on pre-order for the general public, but we were able to get our hands on one. So, we did what we do best - we tore it to pieces.

The Leap Motion

The Leap Motion pre-teardown...

The top PCB

...and mid-teardown.

SparkFun Engineer Mike Hord took the Leap Motion and dissected it - getting it down to a couple PCBs and some enclosure bits. The teardown revealed some pretty cool hardware and some brilliant design work.



We love seeing what makes new technologies like this tick! To see the full teardown, check out this tutorial.

Comments 23 comments

  • Oh man, so much I could say on this little device...Excellent teardown. Way to be awesome as usual.

  • 172pilot / about 9 years ago / 3

    This is GREAT!! I've had three of these on order for about a year, since I first heard of this device, and I just got an email today saying they intend to ship next week.. You have saved me from destroying one of mine out of curiosity!! :-)

  • nachox / about 9 years ago / 2

    Few months ago I made a little hack to extract raw images from leadmotion endpoints


  • RackhamLeNoir / about 9 years ago / 1


    I have a quick question. Can the sensor track occluded objects? I believe not since the video tells about IR technology. However I would like to be sure about that.


  • EvilTwin / about 9 years ago / 1

    I heard something interesting on a related topic, that people were buying the camera/motion sensing unit that goes in the xbox kinect and creating cool devices not related to the xbox.

  • Madbodger / about 9 years ago / 1

    In the pile-o-parts, I can see the five screws and four ... something? What are those bits, and where did they come from?

  • frank26080115 / about 9 years ago / 1

    I want a transparent version, then we can add a nose and mouth to those two eyes.

  • Calif / about 9 years ago / 1

    You can extract the frame rate, resolution & whether the LED's are being power cycled by probing a board cam. These cameras usually alternate between a dark frame & a lit frame. Someone should donate one to Mikeselectricstuff for a reverse engineering. Time of flight cameras are probably going to replace this.

    • SFUptownMaker / about 9 years ago / 1

      I probed around a bit at some likely looking transistors on the board with my scope, and couldn't find any evidence of any kind of switching on the LEDs. I'll not claim to have exhaustively tested it, but I did look for that.

  • SlyVixsky / about 9 years ago / 1

    now that i know it exists, definitely getting one! thank you as always sparkfun!

  • pjkim / about 9 years ago / 1

    It looks like it tracks the hands and fingers surprisingly well. The downside is that I imagine your arms get rather tired when gesturing for any extended stretch of time.

  • Gblaze / about 9 years ago / 1

    Already pre-purchased a couple of these babies, can't wait to do some hacking of my own!

  • Member #167681 / about 9 years ago * / 1


    • SFUptownMaker / about 9 years ago / 2

      Please do not give us any ideas regarding the creation of an in-house X-ray device.

      It's only a matter of time before one of us decides to try and the walls aren't that thick.

      • I could use a SparkFun lead apron... Just sayin.

      • erebus / about 9 years ago / 1

        When I was at ISEF 2 years back with a student one of the other projects from some country around Russia (I forget which one specifically) was a 3D x-ray machine. They had used an arduino to control a stepper motor that would rotate a platform in an lead box (they had poured the lead themselves and shipped it to LA with them...) that was between a standard point and shoot digital camera and an x-ray tube from an old dental x-ray machine. I have no idea if it is legal to purchase an x-ray tube from old dental equipment (or scavenge one???) in the US, but it was pretty sweet. The student who made it was I think 16? I would think it would be a very doable project...Just saying.

        • MikeGrusin / about 9 years ago / 1

          Old science-fair project books from the 50s and 60s often had instructions for making X-ray machines, as the tubes were apparently easy enough to get. In those days, it was enough to mention that the voltages and output were lethal, and expect the experimenters to respect that (otherwise, Darwin). I'm (sadly) not that old, but I grab those books whenever I can because of stuff like this.

  • RocketGuy / about 9 years ago / 1

    I preordered as well, can't wait!

  • I got one of these a while back! They really are awesome. (No flame war over the awesome nail polish this time please. Its pretty cool)

  • Nice little item, and nice dissection, Mike. I agree, I love the relative simplicity of the piece, with the heavy lifting being done in the coding. So much cool application potential for this that it's making my head hurt!

  • RyeMAC3 / about 9 years ago * / 1

    Beautiful case design! These guys definitely took a few pages from Apple's book.

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