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Leap Motion Gesture Control Technology

Motion technology is all the rage right now. Video game systems can’t get enough of making things more interactive and virtual. It started with the Wii and others quickly adapted with the Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move. So what’s next?

Well from watching movies and TV programs people seem to think that utilizing your fingers to control your computer screen will be the natural next progression. A company called Leap Motion is definitely banking on that idea.

I will fully admit being in awe when watching a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie and they have these virtual screens where they can just grab files, move things around, zoom with a pinch, and pretty much control everything with good finger dexterity. But like most of the world I assume that having that tech will cost me an arm and possibly my leg.

Not so friends. Leap will be selling their little magic box for a mere $69.99. That is like 3 new Blu-Ray movies and a Grande Cookies N Cream Frappuccino! Are you kidding me? The price tag on a Kinect is about $250 (which includes development software).

It is hard to say right now as the only demo is available on video (you can see it on YouTube at – http://youtu.be/_d6KuiuteIA). They are billing it as more accurate than a mouse, more reliable than a keyboard, and more sensitive than a touch screen. Obviously the last part isn’t that hard because touch screens are limited based on the surface mass you end up touching. Pudgy finger like mine don’t stand a chance.

You can pre-order the Leap right now but it won’t be available until winter. But at that price it might be worth the gamble to ensure you have the hottest new gadget before Christmas. It is about the size of a big smart phone and plugs into your PC via a USB connection. After you have activated it (and downloaded the software from Leap) then the camera in the device will create a space above it that will function as your “work space”. The space is estimated at 8-cubic feet which is pretty much most of our desk space.

The big claim is that this device will be 200 times more sensitive, precise, and accurate than the Microsoft Kinect. Pretty amazing considering the low cost.

So what do I think?

It sounds pretty cool. The video makes it look awesome. They are touting themselves as the first software designed for use on the computer compared to the video game applications designed for TV use and being converted. Their goal is to change the world. While I won’t go that far yet, this is definitely a very cool step forward. Plus the price is much cheaper than the Kinect for those of us with a budget that still likes cool toys.

But my biggest question is what existing software will be able to utilize it? The demo shows a few specifics of moving on what appears to be a map page, a simple draw type program, and some pretty cool video game applications. But will this interface work with existing software and if so how well? Leap says they are partnered with large companies but have not dropped a single name. I guess time will tell.

Leap is currently offering free developer packages. Windows 8 and the Mac OS X can interface with it. If I was developing software I would definitely want to get involved right away. Those first programs that work well with the type of product have a good opportunity to get a big name fast. Plus the hardware is small enough that it seems like it will be easy to place into desktops and laptops sooner rather than later. All of that means big bucks to the first apps that people ‘have to’ have with their new toy.

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