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Leap Motion: Minority Report is now Real and Affordable

Remember those geeky minority report styled dreams? It is here and it is natural, smooth and practical. Best of all it is affordable. Leap Motion has created a product that makes the Kinect, Move and Wii Motion look like garbage. And, it’ll set you back by only US$70. The product is aptly named ‘Leap’ and was announced earlier this year. I only read about it yesterday and am very excited about it.

The Leap actually works better than Minority Report's ideas.

The Leap actually works better than Minority Report’s ideas.

 

User Interfaces – Hits & Misses 

Much of the past 10 decades have been spent thinking about how we can better interact with our devices. Touchscreens have largely been the only product. Productivity on touch screens is low but they are workable and have been optimized. Because touching is natural and close to what we are already used to – touch screens have taken off, albeit mostly for media consumption devices.

But touchscreens are not practical for desktop / laptop use. Anytime the screen is facing you in parallel, the need for you to lean forward and touch the gigantic screen makes things uncomfortable and unnatural.

The next thing that has been pushed is voice control. Even though Google has produced the most accurate voice control software available, beating Siri by a noticeable margin, voice control is still a gimmick. It is not practical because it is not natural talk to a non living thing and talking affects other people. The lack of privacy when giving commands to your device is the single, almost impossible barrier to cross for voice control.

Then came Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move which was a response to the Ninetendo Wii. This was again largely a miss. Motion detection, though workable, was far from accurate and responsive. But it did create excitement. If you were excited about motion control – here is a refined product.

 

Motion Control Done Right  

Precise and instantaneous response.

Precise and instantaneous response.

The Leap is not a brand new idea. It is simply motion control done right. Imagine motion control with the precision and sensitivity of a mouse – that is what the Leap is. It is best explained by candid, unedited video put up buy its creator (a doctor in Mathematics) and CTO of Leap Motion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssZrkXGE8ZA

The precision and response is impeccable. The device itself is non camera based (unlike the Kinect, etc) and is just a simple dongle that is placed anywhere on your desk. You don’t have to hover your hand over it or have your hand facing it or anything unnatural of that sort. This is exactly why the Leap will be a hit.

 

Practical Case Use Scenarios 

It is completely natural and it fits a lean back experience. The case use for mainstream users is simple, the Leap is the best human interface device when viewing media, browsing the internet and doing things that you don’t have to lean forward for. The idea here is to simply prop your hand on your arm chair and not have to stretch forward. This will, of course, tie in beautifully with Windows 8’s Metro push and tablet-centric apps.

Power users and graphic designers have more things to be excited about. You can literally create 3D art and manipulate movements in 3D space naturally without going through multiple menus and renders. This will be very much like what is seen in Minority Report. MR used to be a dream but the Leap has not only made it possible but has improved it.

 

Affordable

The Leap ships between December 2012 and January 2013 from the United States. They do ship internationally with a US$12 fee. The device on its on is very affordable. Standing at US$70 it makes the Kinect, Move and Wii look really bad. It is cheaper and way better. Preorders have been popular because of that. You can preorder it on their site here.

 

Bright Future

This is the solution that will kill touch screen monitors. It is a solution that is primed at the right time just as Microsoft, whose products run on 90% of desktops worldwide, is moving to touch based interfaces. It has also attracted a large amount of developers. If you are a developer you can register as one and after verification and checks, they will ship you the device and SDK for free. If I had the cash, I would put money in this company. Excited to see how it develops in the next year.

I’ll leave you with their marketing video.

Dave Junia

Dave Junia | administrator

Analyst. Cyclist. Photographer

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