Leap Motion is still a month away from commercial release but the namesake company has announced it's moving into the next phase of beta testing, opening up its developer program beyond the 12,000 or so people who currently own one of the little 3D gesture controllers. Although no more test units are going out before the planned July 22 launch, the move will at least give those who haven't yet played with the device yet a chance familiarize themselves with the developer tools and maybe start building apps.

The company says more than 65,000 people had previously applied to be part of its developer program so the interest appears to be there. Now, anyone can sign up, with access rolling out over the next several weeks.

In addition to the SDK and developer web portal, those who sign up to the program will also get to test drive the Airspace app store, which is rolling out for the first time later this week, as well as Airspace Home. The latter is a desktop launcher that keeps all Leap Motion apps in one convenient place for easy access.

There are currently about 50 apps available on Airspace for early testing, and according to CEO Michael Buckwald, that number is expected to double by the time Leap Motion ships.

For now software partners already on board include 3D design software maker Autodesk, "Cut The Rope" maker Zepto Labs, Double Fine, Disney, Realmac Software, The Weather Channel and Corel. In an effort to lure in more developers the company has also setup $25 million Leap Fund, which will be used to invest in entrepreneurs and startups building interesting applications that take advantage of the controller.

The San Francisco-based will begin fulfilling "hundreds of thousands" of pre-orders starting on July 22, with retail availability at Best Buy stores across the US, Bestbuy.com, Leapmotion.com and Amazon.uk. Later in the year both HP and Asus will start offering Leap Motion bundles with select products.