Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Leap Motion' gesture technology said to be 200 times more sensitive than Kinect

First we had the Nintendo Wii, then we had the Kinect, and finally the PlayStation Move. All of these are gaming console focused, although Microsoft is moving the Kinect away from that, and it's already been unofficially given desktop apps.

A new company called Leap Motion wants to make all those motion controllers look archaic. It claims its motion controller, which you can plug into any USB port on your computer, is 200 times more sensitive than current gesture based technology.

Leap turns the 8-cubic feet of space in front of your computer into "3D interaction space." It tracks any motion within that area, including movements as small as a hundredth of a millimeter. Precision can be fine-tuned, as well.

The Leap camera is approximately the size of a business-card holder. Think of it as the air version of a ten-finger touch sensor, which can detect all ten of your fingers on an iPad screen. The Leap camera can discern all of your fingers individually, allowing actions like pinch-to-zoom, or drawing motions.

Leap believes this is a sea change in user interaction. As the company says on their website:

"Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements. [...] This is like day one of the mouse. Except, no one needs an instruction manual for their hands."

If all this seems hard to believe, so does the price, which Leap says is $69.99. Since the device won't go on sale until the winter, you might ask how we know the price. Ah, but the company is already taking pre-orders, on its site.

The company is also accepting pre-orders for SDKs. The company wants to build a whole ecosystem around the Leap.  Those SDKs should be available within the next few months.

You can watch a demo video below.

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