Leap Motion's new retail partnership with Best Buy is kind of a big deal

By Nathaniel Mott , written on January 16, 2013

From The News Desk

People might be waving their hands, pointing their fingers, and controlling their computers with chopsticks earlier than we thought. Leap Motion, the company bringing motion controls to Windows and OS X, is today announcing an exclusive retail partnership with Best Buy. The company is still accepting pre-orders through its website, but Best Buy's online and retail stores will be the only other place to purchase the Leap Motion controller.

It's been a busy month for Leap Motion. The company, which has seen pre-orders from 40,000 developers and shipped 12,000 free units to bolster its app ecosystem, recently raised $30 million in funding and announced a partnership with Asus that will bring its motion control technology to the manufacturers' computers.

"This is kind of the final piece of the puzzle for us," says Leap Motion president and COO Andy Miller. He says that Best Buy will be putting the Leap Motion controller in all of its retail stores and will foot some advertising costs. Customers will be able to pre-order the controller through Best Buy's website in February -- Miller wouldn't commit to a specific launch date for the product, but says that the company's goal is to have it out by the end of the quarter.

This deal will allow Leap Motion to move beyond its cadre of enthusiasts and into the mainstream. Allowing potential customers to go hands-on (or hands-in-front-of, in this case) could make the technology more real and technologically lust-worthy than a simple website and a video. Training Best Buy's blue-shirts (the people who wander the sales floor answering questions and up-selling customers) to use Leap Motion could also mitigate some of the discoverability problems associated with motion controls that I laid out in an earlier post.

"There's people who just want to touch things and want to see things and understand it," Miller says. "To really play with something and get your hands into the field of view and experience this new form of control and 3-D and how accurate and fast it is -- you really need to experience that yourself to believe it."

And what does Best Buy get? Well, according to a press release and Miller, they get exclusive access to a new method of interacting with devices. Deals like this would also allow Best Buy to mitigate that "showrooming" problem. Rather than competing with Amazon and losing money to keep customers, Best Buy is now able to say that it's the one place selling the future of computer interaction.