Motion control isn’t new. But most of the technologies currently on the market are very limited; they lack fine precision and require a great deal of free space to function. Which makes sense – these are designed for, primarily, video games; broad, sweeping motions make perfect sense in the living room. However, it means that adoption of motion controls in the PC space has been limited; there simply hasn’t been any suitable solution for it. The Leap Motion Controller will change that by tracking the precise, fine-grain movements of your hands in 3D. Once it launches, anyone will be able to outfit their PC for motion input as long as they can spare just one USB slot. It’s a small, portable sensor that sits with the keyboard and mouse, not a bulky camera; purchase it, plug it in, and it starts working immediately.
The Leap Motion Controller is designed specifically to track your hands. It can find the positions of each finger within one micrometer. That’s one hundredth of a millimeter; your hands will shake more than that on their own – there’s literally no purposeful movement you’ll make that the device won’t track. That’s not to say that it can’t handle broader motions, though – while it only models your hands and arms, the Leap Motion Controller can track those in an area of eight cubic feet within its 150-degree field of view.
3D motion control opens all kinds of new ways to interact with software. For example, 3D modeling – well known for the variety of difficult interfaces out there. No matter what solution you try, they’re all trying to let you manipulate objects in 3D through the use of 2D input via a mouse or a keyboard. The3D Motion Controller could very easily make 3D modeling software both easier to use and more powerful – interacting with your work can be simple when you can track the position of your hands in 3D. It could take some practice first though. If you want to move in, move in; if you want to move out, move out. It’s intuitive, without the traditional tradeoffs in terms of high-end functionality that simplified interfaces often face. However, the natural body movements that were just described could not be so intuitive when it comes to applications that have their unique interface and efficient design.
Leap Motion and HP
Existing players in the IT sector have recognized the significance of controller’s technology, and are already starting to provide support. HP, in particular, has plans to bundle the Leap Motion Controller with certain devices in the near future – and, later on, to integrate Leap’s technology directly into their equipment. This could mean that gaming can become a lot more interactive, similar to Kinect on the Xbox 360, only much easier to have diversified applications and user made content. Opinions of those who’ve gotten to participate in hands-on tests are universally glowing. Leap Motion is still a young company, and their flagship product isn’t mature yet – but the future looks very, very bright.
The Leap Motion can be pre-ordered right now and will start shipping on May 13 at the price of $79.99. There will also be an App Store for the product which does have familiar applications for those who have used the Apple Store or the Play Store. The pre-order comes come with two USB cords and free downloads in the App Store.