UltraLeap Halving Workforce; Selling Off Hand-Tracking And Focusing On Haptics Interactive Tech

July 2, 2024 by Dave Haynes

The UK firm focused on enabling touchless, mid-air hand and gesture controls using ultrasound waves and tracking has confirmed it is halving its workforce and offloading one of its two main lines of business.

Ultraleap, based in Bristol, told staff last week it was having to do staff reductions because of what was described as shifting priorities at tech giants, including Facebook-owner  Meta. Interest in the idea and delivery of metaverse applications and experiences, probably the core market, is nothing like it was 3-4 years ago, with all the focus and tech money now going into AI.

Digital signage people who follow new tech and go to trade shows may recall when Ultrahaptics was at some events showing technology that enabled interaction using sound waves, so that you could put your hand in front a poster and it would kinda sorta feel like there were invisible controls. The premise was that this could be used for things like product demos and DOOH, but also – and maybe more so – for applications like automotive dashboard controls, like moving a hand up and down to adjust the audio system volume. The idea there is that safety can be boosted if drivers can keep their eyes on the road, without looking and reaching for key controls like heating/cooling and audio.

The company was blended in 2019 with Leap Motion, a US firm that did hand tracking from a little USB-powered, candy bar-sized desktop device, to form UltraLeap.

Reports suggest the company’s go-forward plan involves finding a buyer for the hand-tracking business, and spinning out the haptics technology side as a new company that would be owned by Ultraleap’s existing shareholders.

This is what the company is saying, via a spokesperson:
“Since the company was established in 2019, Ultraleap has gained international recognition as the leading innovator in mid-air haptic and hand tracking technologies. During this period, customer needs and behaviours have continually evolved and we need to adapt our strategy to reflect these changes. After much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to reshape some of our divisions and reduce the size of our team. This decision has not been taken lightly, but it is necessary for us to adapt our business to better serve our market and our customers.”

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