Is it too soon to call this one? Maybe not. Check out the Leap Motion:
Before you even start to think about what you might use it for, the Leap Motion gobsmacks you with sheer wow-factor. When you imagined the future as a kid, did you picture a wireless telephone? Or did you see yourself Zeus-like, chucking gigs of data through the air with your bare hands? According to me at age 8, this is how we were meant to use computers.
Yet you might call Leap Motion merely a piece of iterative progress, the next natural step forward from smartphone touch screens and Wii or Kinect-like motion control. Of course, the iPod and iPhone were also just good combinations of existing things, stuffed inside attractive shells at do-able (if not reasonable) price-points.
The Leap Motion, on the other hand, is available for pre-order at $69.99 a unit. It seems that Leap Motion’s dream team of startup captains aren’t looking to build a luxury brand. They’re aiming for massive disruption: to quickly establish and dominate a new market, to flood the world with these gizmos and change how we interact with technology forever.
That all sounds nice, but okay- what might we use it for?
The demo video shows us how great the Leap Motion might be for design, handwriting, and 3D modelling. As cool as it is to see these apps in action with gesture control, most of us don’t do that kind of work, so we aren’t in the market for devices that help us do it better. We’re given a look at how fun and intuitive it might be to play games with Leap Motion, or to use Google Maps. These are the most graphics-heavy applications that most of us can relate to, so that’s all well and good. We only catch a glimpse of Leap Motion as an input for basic web surfing, even though that’s what we’ll likely use it for 90 per cent of the time. But the real impact will be found in new apps built around the input.
That might sound kind of ass-backwards, and it is, but it’s also remarkably savvy. Leap Motion is giving away 10,000 free units to developers interested in building applications for it. With a May 2013 launch in mind, devs around the world are hard at work on games, graphics apps, music-making programs, and lord knows what else. One team has figured out how to use it to control a toy helicopter with your fingers. Is the world in dire need of tiny gesture-controlled drone-copters? No, but we weren’t pining away for SMS texting or social networks either, until we got them. What Leap Motion needs to hit big is a killer app that jumps it from “neat!” to “need.”
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