Upcoming Technology: The Leap Motion

Computer interaction has moved quickly over the years. First there were keyboards, and typed commands. When the mouse came along, it was revolutionary. By moving something in the real world, you could interact with objects on your screen. Mouse pads and tablets also sprung up as alternatives for interaction. Then touch screens came along, and lo and behold, you could skip the middlemouse altogether and interact with the screen itself.

Leap Motion
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Now, there’s a new technology, slated for public release this July – an unassuming little device called the Leap Motion.

This takes human-computer interaction to the next logical step – using 3D motions and gestures to control what’s happening on screen. Minority Report controls are an oft-used but rather apt comparison. The Leap Motion controller is a small box, smaller than a mobile phone. It sits on your desk, and uses infra-red cameras to track the movement of your fingers (yes, all ten!). You can push, pull, pinch, swipe, poke, brush, wriggle – whatever gestures have been assigned by the program you’re controlling.

Although much has been made of it as a controller for digital art, 3D modeling, or even gaming, there are also many possibilities for office use. Imagine being able to swipe through a presentation with the flick of a wrist, or physically point at something on the screen and have your audience see exactly what you’re pointing at. With nothing more than simple hand gestures, you could zoom in on a chart, rotate a model to provide a different view, or navigate a document.

The beauty is that this technology is made to work with standard computers, like those available in an office. You don’t need special technology like touch screens – simply plug in the Leap Motion, install the software, and it’s ready for use.

Of course, a lot of its potential will come from developers adding support for the Leap Motion, or creating software specifically for it – but given all the interest so far, chances are good that there will be a lot of different applications that utilise the many, many possibilities this little box brings.

Perhaps the future is already upon us.

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Featured Image Credit: Fumi Yamazaki

Leanne Young

Leanne Yong is an aspiring author currently working in the field of IT consulting. She loves games, gadgets and technology in general.