The Leap: Soon You Won’t Need a Keyboard or Mouse

Just like in the movie, Minority Report, and along the lines of Kinect, people will soon be able to interact with technology via the mere movement of a hand–or finger. After more than five years of development, an amazing technology named The Leap has been developed that synthesizes the shape and movement of the human hand to produce movement onto a computer.

Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald is quoted by Mashable as saying:

We really wanted to build a device that would actually be leaps and bounds better at doing a lot of things that most people want to do with their computers. And in order to do that, you need to be able to track fingers, and you need to be able to do that at a deep, centimeter level.

The underlying method we use is a radical new approach that has never been used before.  It’s simultaneously very inexpensive and also more powerful and more accurate.”

The Leap employs a concept known as Natural User Interface(NUI) in which the use of a tightly-packed cluster of sensors results in a meshed sensor field that can pick up on even very subtle gestures in all five fingers, on each hand, at any given time. “If the user is looking at a 3D model of something, they should be able to reach out and pick it up and move it,” Buckwald explains.

Photo Credit: Mashable

How to use?  Operation is, reportedly, as easy as connecting the device via USB and waving your hand. The Leap’s built-in software calibrates and launches into its package of features, one of which is a 3D image of the user’s hands. And, The Leap can also work with other applications that were designed to take cues from touch technology. It does not have to rely on pre-designed gestures to direct software.

Buckwald elaborates:

Because you can see a hand on screen, and it so precisely mirrors your own hand, it really starts to feel like that is your own hand very quickly. Some users report feeling as if some contact has happened when something touches the virtual hand on screen.

The apps are everything from three-dimensional representations of social networks to a group of engineers looking for ways to do interactive 3D models, to specialized enterprise use cases for industries. There’s really a wide spectrum, and that’s something we’re encouraging.”

So, with The Leap, developers will be able, and have already begun, to create apps that can translate the movement of users fingers and hands onto the screen.

The Minority Report aside, hands-free motion control was first pioneered by Nintendo’s Wii and subsequently improved upon by Microsoft’s Kinect. Industries from gaming to surgery to architecture, engineering, and design may gain from this technology.

Some of the capabilities of The Leap:

  • Navigating an operating system or browsing Web pages with the flick of a finger
  • Finger-pinching to zoom in on maps
  • Letting engineers interact with a 3D model of clay
  • Precision drawing in either two- or three-dimensions
  • Manipulating complex 3D data visualizations
  • Playing games, including those that require very “fast-twitch” control
  • Signing digital documents by writing in air

The Leap will retail at around $70 and will go on sale sometime between December 2012 and February 2013.

Featured Photo Credit: CNET