July 23, 2013
Leap Motion Controller Gets Positive Moves
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Motion control has been all the rage on video game consoles. It hadn't made its way widely to the desktop until the Leap Motion controller was set up in front of the computer this week. Early reviews for the $80 device are positive.
The new USB device uses camera sensors and LEDs to pick up gestures made within a certain field. Those movements are translated to applications running on the PC. Possible tasks could include creating within a 3D modeling program, scrolling through a webpage, or controlling a game. The device also comes with 24-inch and 60-inch microUSB 3.0 cables with a proprietary plug. The two lengths allow users to set up the controller close to the PC or a little farther away.
"Using the compact Leap Motion box, I was able to reach out into the open space in front of my computer and pluck a digital harp, manipulate a three-dimensional rendering of molecular structures, dissect a frog and -- in the popular game of the same title -- Cut The Rope. I didn't make physical contact with the computer or any other devices," said USA Today writer Edward Baig, in a review.
Leap Motion created an app store called Airspace to build an ecosystem for its gesture-sensing device. At launch, Airspace has about 75 apps for PCs and Macs. While some of the apps are free, some are priced at $0.99 and up.
The motion-sensing device isn't expected to replace traditional input devices, such as keyboards and mice, but it does open up new possibilities in computing.
Many journalists and industry insiders got a first look of the Leap Motion device during South by Southwest this past spring. Before that, Leap Motion won the 2012 Breakthrough Product Award, Popular Mechanics reported.
The controller is about the size of a pack of gum, and has a streamlined design made from aluminum and shiny black plastic. "The Leap Motion's guts are nothing too fancy -- two CMOS sensors and three infrared LEDs -- but they provide enough data for the tracking of individual finger movements. The device is controlled mainly through Airspace, a program that looks like the Launchpad in Mac OSX and displays all the apps installed in the user's account. Those apps may be why it took so long for the Leap Motion to hit the market -- at the end of 2012 it seemed like it was just a few months away. But Leap CEO Michael Buckwald says, 'it takes developers time to build content, and we really only have one chance to do this right,"Â the Popular Mechanics article said.
One complaint came from CNET. "It only works with compatible apps; not as intuitive or reliable as using a touch pad, touch screen or mouse for everyday tasks; your arms get tired when using it."
It is still early days for the new gesture-controlled device. "Though my experience at home with Leap Motion wasn't perfect, I'm no less intoxicated not only by what it can already do but by what it promises to do in the future," USA Today's Baig said.