Leap Motion Controller

By: on March 19, 2013
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The Leap Motion Controller, a sort of hands-free mouse with far more calibrated skills, sounds so wicked I don't even care that I'm going to look like an epileptic mime waving my arms around to use it. Though unassuming in appearance--it's a slim, 3" long rectangle that connects to computers via USB--the Leap garners enough power to replace click, tap, drag, and drop functionality with hand waves, fist squeezes, and finger points. It enables people to interact with technology using natural physiological movements and the open space between body and screen without grasping a chunk of plastic. Similar to the MYO Armband, the Leap makes it possible to do stuff without touching stuff.

By sensing hands and tracking all 10 fingers up to 1/100th of a millimeter, the Leap Motion Controller accommodates activities from basic Web browsing and flipping through digital photos to accurately drawing or painting inside areas as small as a 1" cube. It even differentiates between thumbs and pinkies and index fingers, reacting to switches between them, as well as understands when hands bend, flip, or fold. At this echelon of sensitivity and sagacity--200 times greater than existing motion-control technology--I wonder if I can go so far as to fulfill my childhood fantasy of punching circa 1989 Screech in the neck and having him at least appear to feel it when I stream Saved by the Bell reruns.

Leap Motion Controllers' readable area spans a 150-degree field, and includes a Z-axis for interpreting hand depth as well. In addition to browsing bookmarks and Bob Rossing it up on the PC, Leap users can:

  • Shoot 'em up with a finger and fly Goose around Miramar with their hands.
  • Sculpt, mold, stretch, bend, and build 3D objects.
  • Play air guitar for real. As in you make the noise, not Jimi. Yeah...I like the other way better too.

Leap Motion Controller's ship date is set for May 13, 2013, with pre-orders currently available. Once released, its tandem app store, Airspace, will also launch chock full of specially designed Leap programs and best efforts to eradicate mice from the planet. I hope that means cats will die off too.

February 2014 Update: The Leap Motion Controller is now available for direct purchase.

Muchas danke to Braden M. for the product suggestion and for dressing up like Bam Bam Bigelow, but not for the unexpected introduction of Crown Royal to Saturday night.