A number of years ago a film called Minority Report showed the world how we could interact with our computer if we could used our hands and gestures rather than a keyboard and mouse. It looked cool and was just a science fiction dream, but now we could be seeing that technology become reality with the newly released Leap Motion.
Leap Motion is a motion sensor that detects and tracks movement of your hands in 3D, using a couple of cameras and infra-red sensors. The actual device is incredibly small at only 3" long and an inch wide, but it's amazingly accurate.
The Leap Motion was an idea that was born through the use of Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, where keen backers pledged money to get the project off the ground. In return for their backing, contributors received the full Leap Motion product at a cheaper price then regular consumers. Well, I was one of those keen beans and signed up to the project.
When I first invested in the Leap Motion I had visions of controlling my computer with nothing but swipes and flicks of my hand and that I could throw the keyboard and mouse out of the window. Sadly in reality it's not quite that good. Whilst the device is brilliant and lives up to its billing, the software is 12 months behind it. Developers need to truly understand what the Leap Motion can do before consumers get the best out of it. As a developer myself and looking at the actual code that controls the Leap Motion, the possibilities are endless and the potential for the software is amazing.
There are some apps available through the Leap Motion Store and they're good at best. My current favourite is Boom Ball, where you control a bouncing ball to knock over blocks. It's pretty basic but enjoyable.
I've tested the Leap Motion with Windows and Mac OS X and both work well, although performance was slightly better on OS X. However, does the Leap Motion work well enough to control Windows or OS X? Short answer; no. The long answer however, is that neither Windows nor OS X are designed for 3D motion control and therefore they simply do not respond to it. I feel that an OS dedicated to the Leap Motion is needed to really harness the device's full potential.
If you would like to try it for yourself then feel free to pop down to our offices and give it a go!