Welcome To The Future - Leap Motion Unveils 3D Motion Control System
May 21, 2012

Welcome To The Future – Leap Motion Unveils 3D Motion Control System

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

There have been several advancements to hands-free motion control in the past several years, as evidenced by Nintendo´s Wii controllers and Microsoft´s Kinect system. Today, a San Francisco startup has surpassed both of these with their 3D motion control system, and it could have long-lasting implications on the way we interact with computers, play games and even perform surgery.

The new technology from Leap Motion allows users to control what´s displayed on their computers within a hundredth of a millimeter accuracy using common and well known gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom.

While the Kinect controller gives users the ability to use their entire bodies as game controllers, the device, created by Leap Motion co-founders David Holz and Michael Buckwald, allows users to control their computers by making only small motions with their hands and fingers. By using smaller gestures, the technology allows for greater accuracy and can be used in a smaller space.

Consisting of only a small USB controller and a rather sophisticated software platform, the entire system is only expected to cost $70. Before you grab your wallet, the system won´t be available until next year. The startup is currently taking pre-orders, however, and developers are able to download an SDK to create apps and programs to take advantage of this new technology. If the website´s behavior this morning is any indication, Leap Motion is likely selling many more pre-orders than they anticipated.

In their demo video, a hand is seen drawing the word “hello” in cursive, making vivid and colorful splashes appear on screen, scanning a map quickly using pinch-to-zoom and even play a quick game of Fruit Ninja.

This could only be the beginning for Leap Motion. Earlier this month, Leap Motion announced a $12.75 million round of Series A funding led by Highland Capital Partners. Immediately thereafter, the company decided to branch out and make their technology accessible by a large number of third party applications and developers rather than try to come up with apps themselves.

“We want there to be world-changing applications that fundamentally transform how people interact with their operating system or browse the Web..., “ Buckwald told CNET.

“The goal is to fundamentally transform how people interact with computers and to do so in the same way that the mouse did, which means that the transformation affects everyone, both from the most basic use case all the way up to the most advanced use cases you can imagine for computing technology.”

In the same way Apple has an App Store for their popular iPhone and iPad devices, Leap Motion also plans to offer a marketplace wherein developers can sell their Leap Motion focused apps.

"We believe that ultimately, the sheer number of use cases for this technology are so great that the value can only be realized by making it open," Buckwald said. "So think what would have happened if the mouse had been initially been released as a closed technology. The impact would have been a tiny, tiny percentage of what the impact was because it was an open system that anyone could develop for."

Leap Motion could likely be making headlines in the coming months, as the company has already received more than 1,000 inquiries by developers. They expect this number to grow exponentially now that they´ve announced themselves to the world.