Take the Leap to touch-free control
Do you want to know how the technology landscape will look in five years? I think I see a piece of it in the Leap Motion Controller, an inexpensive gadget that began shipping in late July. The $79.99 USB device is placed on a surface, facing upwards, and uses cameras and infrared LEDs to track finger motion within a 3-foot area. The video below (from Leap Motion) shows someone using the controller to manipulate Google Earth — it looks pretty impressive!
Engadget’s reviewer was less excited, saying “the Leap Motion controller is more about potential than anything else … it’s best suited for creative pursuits, not productivity.” (the next video summarizes the Engadget review)
Leap Motion has actively sought developers since it was announced more than a year ago. As a result, their app collection, Airspace Store, contains over 100 titles as of this writing. Many of the programs center around gaming and music-making, but there are a few educational apps, including CyberScience – Motion (image at right), Molecules, Frog Dissection, and Exoplanet. I’m sure that educators all over the country are imagining all kinds of fascinating ways in which this gadget could be used.
Gesture-based computing is not new. Microsoft’s Kinect, an add-on for the Xbox gaming system, is a related device. It has been available since 2011 and is gearing up for a major update in 2014. In the meantime, Leap Motion has made a significant step forward in terms of lowering cost and improving capability.