Every so often we come across a new advancement in technology that seems way ahead of its time, and it’s hard to believe and contemplate its applications. For instance, a lot of people were sceptical when Bill Gates claimed Windows would eliminate the need to write code to operate a computer, also, nobody could have predicted the defining symbol the Apple iPod has eventually become. Well, the yet to be new technology Leap has the potential to be just that. It could very well change the way we interact with our computers and even update the way we think about technology.
“Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.” This is the pitch on the homepage of the Leapmotion website where visitors are first introduced to the concept. And after looking at some of the demos posted on the website and elsewhere on the site, we have (and you will) come to the conclusion that—for a technology which has the potential to completely change the way we interact with machines—the description above is an understatement.
So what exactly is this Leap that we have been babbling about? Well, physically, it’s just a box the size of your USB drive that you simply plug into your computer. This ‘box’ then creates a 3D interaction space of eight cubic feet to precisely interact with and control software on your laptop or desktop computer, creating wonders in the process.
Its main feature is its eccentric simplicity. By bridging the gap between our instinctive movements and computer input, it brings us and machines together. For instance, flipping a page on your ebook will be as simple as a flick your wrist. Alternatively, scrolling will be as simple as moving your fingers up and down in space and zooming in and out will be just as simple. Moreover, as you can manoeuvre all fingers simultaneously, the potential to manipulate even the most complex of 3D designs will become just a matter of intuition. You will also be able to create custom gestures that fit how you want to use your computer. Also, according to Leapmotion, you can even network within more than one Leap device, to create even larger interaction areas thereby increasing the potential for even more complex gestures. Furthermore, although it behaves like touch technology, it happens in the space in front of the screen so you don’t have to cover your window with all those unsightly smudges.
Another endearing feature about Leap motion is its amazing precision. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements. The company claims and demonstrations have shown that it can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimetre. Watch the video on http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/26/3118592/leap-motion-gesture-controls if you find this hard to believe. Amazingly, it can even incorporate the most subtle of motions.
Though computer power has grown exponentially over the years, the way we interact with computers has not, and the potential is simply staggering. With Leap, every kind of application, in every sector, will probably be revamped. In fields like art, healthcare, engineering, operating systems, and gaming, the potential is probably obvious. And you can be confident that there will be a great number of apps that will exploit the potential in these fields. Artists can use Leap to emulate a stylus or easily create 3D images while engineers can manipulate 3D modelling software more comprehensibly creating even more realistic models. Likewise, in medicine, surgeons can control and access their 3D data while in surgery as they do not need to touch anything, thereby keeping their gloves clean. Also, this might be a huge advancement for the gaming industry as now game play will become more realistic and accurate. Moreover, many games will come with versions oriented exclusively for Leap. Finally, anyone can use Leap to interact with Windows 7/8 or Mac OS X by clicking, grabbing, scrolling and using familiar gestures like pinch to zoom in 3D space and they can also create more realistic virtual signatures to sign documents as Leap is capable of emulating the tip of a pencil with accuracy.
According to the company, they are shipping a few of its units early, so don’t be surprised if in a few months you find some specialised applications that cater to Leap. We will probably only then begin to realise the full potential of Leap. Many have also predicted that specialised app stores will be created for Leap apps. So hold your breath and be ready to herald the entry of the next big technology into our lives this winter.
You can preorder Leap on its website, Leapmotion.com for US $69.99
Source: The Kathmandu Post