Leap Motion, for hand capture

Leap Motion is a small (1.2 x 3 x .5-inch) brick capturing all hand movements above it:

Watching this demo, the Leap Motion really looks awesome! Greatly responsive, highly sensitive… at $80!

The other crucial requirement to make a successful device stands in a word: S-T-O-R-E! Apple has brought this platform where anyone can promote an application running on the platform, and in case this application costs something, Apple gets a piece of the cake.
Why are application stores crucial? Because we will all agree a device – as great as it can be – requires a killer application that would embrace the mass market.
Note: application stores are hard to setup, because beyond the technological excellence of the device itself, stores require excellent SDKs, APIs and documentation (API description, guides, tutorials, etc).
Leap Motion has its store, with more than 150 applications so far. This is not the only device (Emotiv or Aldebaran Robotics have one as well), this is not sufficient, but for sure the store is mandatory to succeed. Also to be noticed: Leap Motion developers can use their $80 device and download the SDK for free, whereas the Emotiv developer version costs $200 more than the device alone. Even better, Leap Motion provided 10,000 developers free devices!!

Then comes the review. I won’t get into much details, as this device has already been reviewed so many times. I would simply sum up with the pros:
+ Easy to install, compatible with PC & Mac
+ Some apps are working great and really benefiting from what this new device can bring
+ Good techno/price
and cons:
– Needs a strong CPU to compute all data (two cameras at 200 images/sec)
– No killer app (yet!)
– Available apps can use very different interaction gestures, so learning isn’t natural
– Gesture capture can be too precise (when drawing, pointing)

The real final drawback was predictable: no one can hold his arms in the air for more than 30 minutes. This isn’t the first issue tackled by reviews I have read, mostly because they see this device as an entertainment/gaming input device. Using it as it is used sets it in the game controller category.

However, back to this blog’s matter, we may consider this Leap Motion will not replace a mouse input or a graphics tablet as is. Which means the end of the story?
Probably not. Why put it on an horizontal plan? Why use it to replace a mouse? Two alternatives come to my mind:

  1. Attach the device vertically, back on my chest, to capture gestures in front of me. That could replace the 11 cameras of the Sensics Natalia goggles. That would certainly let dumb persons be translated in real time. Which looks like the webcam used in the Sixth Sense project.
  2. Attach one Leap Motion to each pocket and read finger movements of each sloping hand (requiring no effort). Could replace a keyboard for typing champions. This being inspired by the character called Heinrich Lunge from the manga Monster.

Let’s not nip this Leap Motion in the bud ;-D

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