Geo Week News

March 12, 2013

Want to pretend you are Tony Stark?

LEAP Controller

If you said, “Yes, I do want to be like Tony Stark,” I just might have the computer interface part solved for you. As for the Audi R8, the ever present supermodels and the whole Iron Man thing … you’re on your own. Many of us have watched with interest as the Microsoft Kinect was used as a motion controller for applications outside of the Xbox. However, if you have tried this you know that while it may be fun, it’s not as productive as a traditional mouse or anywhere close to a 3D mouse. The issue seems to be a combination of a lack of point density and low accuracy returns. While there have been Kinect knock-offs that have improved on this, the new Leap Motion Controller is in a class by itself.

According to the forum boards on LEAP’s website, the technical specifications are as follows: 

  • 0.01mm precision in detecting position in Field of View
  • Field of View (range) 0.2 cubic meters  

Unfortunately, that’s about it. By looking at some unboxing videos you’ll find out that there are three sensors and that the release version will be version 6. Early versions were just a couple of raw circuit boards without a case. In these you could see two lens like sensors and three LEDs being used to create the sensor field. For a full demo by the CTO of Leap, check out this video posted by tech site The Verge. The demos are quite impressive; especially for those of us that are already accustomed to working in a 3D environment. The best news is that, delays aside, the product does not appear to be vaporware. 

LEAP Motion is the new name for OcuSpec, a startup that raised more than $14.5 million from 2011 to 2012. So, funding doesn’t seem to be a problem. While they have announced that they will have an App Store (or whatever they will call it so that Apple doesn’t sue them out of existence) for LEAP specific apps, the design of the motion controller is stated to be fully cross platform and OS agnostic.  In fact, they have been sending out units to developers since May 2012 in order to front-load the app store with third party apps.  That should open up a wide user base. 

LEAP tweeted last month that Autodesk was making plugins for the motion controller and said it would begin shipping pre-orders the week of May 13. Best Buy has announced that they will have units for sale the week of May 18. Best of all, units are listed as retailing for $79.99.

Now, about that Audi R8 …

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