We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Leap Motion Controller and how much heat is normal. And it certainly can get pretty warm to the touch! But while temperatures around 106°F are not uncommon, the Leap Motion Controller is not capable of burning you, igniting fabric or paper, or damaging your VR headset in any way. These temperatures are also not capable of affecting tracking.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find clear maximum temperature ranges in the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive documentation. There is a reference to not leaving the headset “in extremely hot locations, such as an enclosed car on a sunny day,” but considering that hot cars can literally bake cookies, it sounds like generally good advice.
However, we can look at other examples. For example, the iPhone 6 will warn you if its temperature is above 113°F (45°C). Even this is only because it has a lithium-ion battery. Most electronics can endure much higher temperatures, and the Rift and Vive are more likely to be in that category.
As far as tracking quality is concerned, our tests have confirmed that the Leap Motion Controller must be made very hot – 122°F (50°C) or more – in order for the image quality from the sensor to degrade. At these temperatures, the image becomes more noisy, and tracking suffers as a result. This is beyond the range of temperatures that we’ve seen with the controller.
In fact, in many cases the internal temperature of your VR headset is likely to be hotter than the Leap Motion Controller. Anyone with an infrared thermometer can gauge how hot their controller is and compare it to their headset. You can usually find these devices for $10-20, and they’re a lot of fun, especially if you have kids. Here’s a video of someone taking the temperature of different parts of his Rift’s exterior over time and coming up with a range of temperatures – the highest being 43°C (109°F).
Even if this weren’t the case, the Leap Motion VR Developer Mount features an air gap between the device and the headset – specifically, between the two pieces that make up the mount. For this reason, it’s thermally isolated from the headset. So while the Leap Motion Controller can get pretty warm, your favorite VR headset is unaffected.
Thanks for all your questions and feedback about the Leap Motion Controller and the new Orion software. If you have more to add, or need support, let me know!