What is it?
The Leap Motion Controller is a small, inexpensive, device that allows your computer to respond to your hand gestures like pointing, waving reaching and grabbing. It is kept face up on your desk, ideally right in front of the keyboard between you and the computer. Its design is so small and sleek, (it’s only 3 inches long) that it will in no way disrupt your workspace.
The device senses your hand and finger movements allowing you to control the screen without using a mouse, keyboard or even touching the screen. According to the manufacturer Leap Motion, the device is so precise, it can track hand movement up to 1/100th of a millimetre.
Leap works alongside your computer's mouse, keyboard or stylus rather than replacing these devices. To use it, all you have to do is plug in the device and have the Leap software running on your computer. Then sit back and experience the feeling of a ‘virtual touch screen’ that Leap creates for you.
What makes it awesome?
The device is awesome, because it allows you to use your computer in an entirely new way. It enhances the closeness of human computer interaction, and converts your hand into a cyborg-like tool, by seamlessly integrating your natural hand gestures with the modern technology.
You can browse the web, flip through photos, paint or sculpt, play music, or even steer a car in a racing game, all by using simple hand movements. Wave your hand to turn pages, click on an icon just by pointing or play a game without any controllers. Leap makes all of this possible without any physical link between your hand and the screen. The Leap Motion Controller has a sensory range of up to 8 cubic feet. This creates a much larger playground for your hands and fingers to move around and explore.
What makes this device so unique, is that it is one of only a small sampling of products on the market today that costs less than $100! That’s a lot of bang for your buck. And, Leap is already mainstream. Both Asus and HP have embedded the leap technology into some models of their computers. Leap’s ultimate goal is to eventually have the technology built into smaller devices like tablets and smartphones.
How will it change the world?
The Leap technology is already changing the landscape of how we use our computers, but it has the potential for so much more due to its development around human-computer interaction. With its detection of movement around the computer, users may experience a feeling of being in an artificially intelligent environment.
The reactions to hand movements are so precise, it provides the user with the feeling of actually being able to reach into the screen. The device also gives users the power to interact with virtual reality (VR) hardware such as the Oculus Rift - a VR headset for 3-D gaming. You can mount the Leap device directly onto the front of the headset and interact with the objects you see in the virtual reality environment in front of you.
As the device develops further, it has the potential to add remote capabilities in various fields such as Healthcare and Engineering. For example, remote surgery and tele-robotics are possible with a more mature version of this device. The Leap Motion Controller has opened the door to a much more robust ‘virtual’ world at the control of your fingertips, and it’s just getting started!