Gestural Innovator Leap Motion Steps Up Developer Support
By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated December 18, 2012.
Gestures-in-the-air interaction with your personal computer is coming. One of the leading companies working to make that happen, Leap Motion, announced Tuesday that it is providing free controller units for 10,000 new developers, in addition to 40,000 already shipped.
The units, sent out over the next two weeks, will help third-party developers create apps for the Leap Motion 3-D motion control technology. When the product launches next year, the company will also offer a Leap Motion application store so that developers can sell and distribute their apps. The controller and software are now available in pre-order at $69.99.
15,000 in First Week
In May, Leap Motion announced its technology, and invited developers to apply for controller units. The company said more than 40,000 did, of which 15,000 were in the first week after their initial announcement, and the new batch of 10,000 free units is additional.
Applications being proposed for the technology include games, computer-aided design, virtual musical instruments, in-the-air typing, sign language interpretation and educational tools. There are also proposals for using the technology to drive cars, fly planes, or provide assistance for physical rehabilitation. The company said that fourteen percent of developers are proposing game-related apps, 12 percent uses involving music and video, 11 percent for art and design, 8 percent for science and medicine, and 6 percent for robotics.
In addition, the San Francisco-based company said it was updating its Software Development Kit and offering to developers a new game demo application designed for Leap Motion's technology, called Block 54. The SDK update includes a library of pre-defined interaction APIs, which will detect a user's movements such as a pinch or a grab, and then map that movement to a specific action on screen.
'New Computing Interaction Paradigm"
The game demo is a block balancing and stacking game that users play by subtle hand motions in the air, in front of the screen. The company said its motion-control technology is the only one with the accuracy and immediate response capability needed for such a game.
Leap Motion "isn't just about a single technological advancement," founder and CEO Michael Buckwald said in a statement. "We're about building a lasting company that delivers an entirely new computing interaction paradigm." Or, as the company has said, "no one needs an instruction manual for their hands."
While in summary the technology resembles that of Microsoft's Kinect gestural game controller, Leap allows extremely accurate -- within a hundredth of a millimeter -- in-the-air gestural recognition of hands and fingers, or of a pencil being used as a free motion pointer, or other items used to guide motion.
The company, founded in 2010, has said that its 3D motion-control and motion-sensing technology is "200 times more sensitive than existing motion-control technology," so that users can more easily and more accurately navigate and interact with apps via natural hand and finger movement.