|Display Daily is migrating to a new web site - www.Display-Central.com! You can now read Display Daily at http://www.display-central.com/category/article-news/display-daily/. Please bookmark this new link. The new Display Central site offers much more news and information, so check it out.|
by: Art Berman
Leap Motion (San Francisco, CA) has emerged from stealth operations and unveiled the company’s Leap 3D motion control system. The new product gives users the ability to use touch-free gestures to interact with their computer and to do so with an accuracy claimed to be a hundredth of a millimeter.
The technology that enables such precise control is based on an optical system that illuminates an interaction space of about 8 cubic feet using infrared LEDs and captures the image with three tiny cameras. The system can simultaneously track the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of points and can do so utilizing an amazingly low 1-2% of a typical CPU’s capability.
In an interesting comment, Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald explained that technology could, in principle, have been developed years ago except for the fact that no one had been able to develop the necessary mathematics.
Leap is a USB peripheral. It is installed simply by being plugged into a USB port, loading the software and doing a quick calibration.
Leap claims that their system can sense motion down to the slightest movement of the thumb or fingers. The system can also identify handheld items such as a pencil. In fact, the company claims that the Leap system is 200X more sensitive than any other existing, touch-free product or technology. So precise, in fact, that a user can even create a digital signature with their fingertip or a pen.
Leap is compatible with any device that has onboard touch drivers – such as those used for trackpads or touchscreens. This means that Leap’s hands-free motion control technology is backwards compatible with existing apps.
A video illustrating the Leap Motion device in operation can be found here. It can be noted from the video that the system has no apparent latency.
In a recent report by CNET, the Leap system demonstrated the following capabilities:
- Navigating an operating system or browsing Web pages with the flick of a finger.
- Use of a finger-pinch to zoom in on a map.
- Interaction with a 3D clay model.
- Precision drawing in either two or three dimensions.
- Manipulating complex 3D data visualizations.
- Playing games, including those that require very “fast-twitch” control.
The company has created software to encourage third parties to add gesture recognition to their applications. In adopting this approach, Leap Motion has decided not to try to build and popularize apps by itself. In fact, Leap Motion ultimately envisions an app store where Leap customers can source applications.
The current Leap product is a peripheral that will retail for $69.99, about half that of a Kinect. At this time, a limited number of development kits are available for pre-order. These kits will ship during the next 1 to 3 months. Leap Motion plans to begin selling devices within a year.
The eventual goal is to embed Leap directly into products. This goal is enabled, in part, by the fact that the hardware is physically small and can easily fit into laptops, cell phones, tablets and the like. In fact, the system has the potential to operate even more effectively when embedded. This is because embedding can offer greater flexibility in the placement of the hardware relative to the user’s hands. In addition, multiple sensors can be included to create a larger virtual workspace.
At this time, the company is reportedly in talks with several major hardware manufacturers regarding the use of Leap in laptops.
The capability of the Leap system seems to fall somewhere between an evolutionary and a revolutionary development. If it lives up to its’ “press,” then the technology seems on-track for near term commercialization.