It's been nearly 50 years since Douglas Engelbart, an engineer at the Stanford Research Institute, invented the first computer mouse. Since then, his basic point-and-click input scheme has remained fundamentally unchanged; even trackpads and touchscreens, which recognize multiple points at once, work on the same guiding principle. Now Leap Motion, a San Francisco company, is aiming to reinvent human-computer interaction.
Its three-inch-long motion-capture device, known simply as the Leap, lets users control computers and manipulate onscreen objects by just waving their fingers.
Connected to any Windows or Mac OS X computer, the Leap uses a combination of infrared LEDs and 1.3-megapixel camera sensors to monitor movement in an 8-cubic-foot field. Leap's software runs custom algorithms to convert what the device sees into a 3-D map of the user's hands. The system detects movements as small as one-hundredth of a millimeter—200 times the sensitivity of the Microsoft Kinect—which allows the system to track individual fingertips. The Leap is small enough for manufacturers to integrate into existing laptops and tablets, which could happen as early as next spring.
Out of the box, the Leap will be able to take over basic onscreen navigation, but hundreds more uses are coming. Leap Motion plans to ship the first round of devices to software developers of varying specialties, including gaming and graphic design, and will eventually launch a dedicated app store. Developers have already proposed apps for sculpting virtual clay, conducting orchestras and even translating sign language into text.
Dimensions 3 by 1 by 0.3 inches
Range 8 cubic feet
Availability February 2013
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The Brookstone Virtual Keyboard turns any flat surface into a touchscreen QWERTY keypad. Users pair the 1.5-inch Bluetooth accessory with their laptop or tablet. A low-power laser
projector then displays the keyboard while an internal infrared-filtered camera sensor monitors the typist's fingers. Virtual Keyboard $100
The problem with this is it mimics some of the signs used by the deaf and will make using a PC impossible for the deaf if they only have this way of controlling a PC. Thus two deaf working side by side on their PC's and trying to communicate would mess up their PC's. Pretty stupid if you ask me as it didn't take into consideration the deaf at all. Hearing people never do!
A low-power laser projector flat keyboard, brings back the memories of the Sinclair computer touch pad keyboard. Oh what fun memories!
That should be true at all. First off depending where you put the Leap you could have it not "see" the persons hand movements until you wanted to put them into the field of view.
Second the Leap should be able to be programed to ignore jesters that it doesn't understand.
See the demo here:
Also see the forum here where there are lots of discussions, even a discussion on if it might be possible to get the Leap to understand sign language. At this point it is pretty much just speculation though since anyone that has one has to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect it until all the patents such are in and it gets released.
Opps that should have been "That shouldn't be true at all."
BTW I'm sure the people on the Leap forum would love to hear about your concerns and see what might be possible.
Another idea I can think of is have Leap ignore anything that isn't in a certain area and make that area where you would have normally been using a mouse or touch pad.
Are you serious with your complaint on the product? I mean really? I know how bout people that are unable to use the product simply keep using what they have? Also I am with tcolguin with the positioning of the device. Its not like the people that are deaf are going to have there hands in the field area that receives the inputs. Please stop with the pointless point out of things that are not actually a problem.
whats the purpose of having this when we're already able to just touch the screen why complicate things
There is one major problem with all of these devices.
So far the only thing easier than "point and click" is direct mind control. Why would anyone want to wave their hands in the air all day when they can just use one finger?
If gestures are used to do special things you cant easily do with "point and click" then fine.
But for the average user who just needs to do simple navigation a mouse is probably much more practical than even mind control.
There will me many good uses for these new devices, but they will probably never replace "point and click".
When Doug Engelbart invented the mouse in 1963, he envisioned that it would be one of many options available -- depending on the situation, context, application, user abilities, etc. One reason the mouse has not been totally replaced in all these years is that no other pointing method has yet surpassed it in precision, efficiency and speed, especially for picky detail work such as editing. But there are many other applications and situations where that is simply not needed or not practical, where other options would be more suitable.
It's exciting to read about these new horizons opening up in human-computer interaction -- finally after all these years!
Executive Director (and daughter)
The Doug Engelbart Institute
I don't think people really understand what is special about the Leap Motion. Unlike say the Kinetics the Leap has a precision of .01mm. So you don't have to go waving you hands around in great arcs and big gestures, it can track the tip of your finger(s) for instance. And so even though you can do the same things you are doing on a phone today like the pinch and sliding of the finger to scroll around and such, you can also point with great accuracy.
In fact you could point the Leap at the same spot on your desk where you mouse now is and just move your hand/fingers in about the same way that you do for your mouse, and do the exact same things as a mouse, but the mouse just wouldn't be there. It is important to know that the Leap doesn't have to be pointing up to work. It can be pointing in any direction you want it to "see".
Now why does that matter for a phone with a touch screen?
Well ask yourself why are the buttons on these devices the size they are? The main reason for their size is your finger. They have to be big enough for your finger to get on them. That is the reason on a desktop where you can use a mouse objects can be much smaller. But if your "surface area" is now not the screen itself, but any size region in space you like with .01 mm accuracy, now all of a sudden the screen objects can be much smaller.
And extend this into the future. Imagine the phone in your pocket, you have something like Google glasses for your "screen", and you have something like Leap Motion for your pointing device.
BTW. If someone felt that they just couldn't hold their hand in a certain position on the desktop and do "mouse like" movements, there would be nothing stopping the system to go with a "dummy mouse". You just make a mouse with no working parts per-say.
But why have a dummy mouse when you can just have a real one?
I use my mouse intensely and two things give out on it, the batteries and the switches. The battery life is getting there, but it is not infinite. But of more of a concern to me is the buttons. Within a year the buttons start registering double clicks. Those little micro switches just don't have that much life. If the Leap is just looking at my finger pushing the button down, the double click problem goes away. And having the Leap powered by USB means no more battery life problems, and I don't care about the cord because I'm not moving the Leap around.
This is very cool technology. Perhaps like the movie Iron Man where the inventor waves his arms, points, speaks and gestures in his shop\laboratory, in the future we can all design, write, create our dreams! Maybe this technology is not perfect yet, but I like what it brings! OH YEA!
You seem to be complaining on almost every articles written on Popsci. You tend to see the worse in things don't you? What is the deal? You backwater thinker! "I hold the world but as the world, Gizmoqiz, A stage where every man must play a part,
And yours a sad one." Shakespear wrote about you many centuries ago, you're famous already. Enough with attention crying!
Coolest device I've seen so far. I just hope it doesn't do anything when I'm picking my nose or something. I think I read an article somewhere about a device that can read eye movement. I think it is way more useful because even quadriplegics can use it.
Minority Report here we come!
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
Looks like it would waste a lot of energy. A good mouse you don't have to move much more than your wrist to control the computer. And the laser printed keyboard is nice if you want to pack up and carry your whole computer.....but the tactile response from individual keys is something I'd be sore to lose.
I thought the sinclair keyboard was a pain. Four or six functions on one key
Woopee, someone as old as dirt as me, lol.
Though, my first programming was with FORTRAN on IBM punch cards....
@cengelbart - Great comment! It is nice to hear what your father would have thought. I think the mouse was a great leap forward, and that is why nothing has replaced it in all these years.