In the cinematic future, computers work in one of two ways. There are the gigantic workstations with multi-screen set-ups all synced together for an ADHD-addled person’s wet dream. Then there’s the equipment-free holographic interfaces where a conductor’s wave of the hands allows for buttonless government database hacking. If you’ve been following the progress of startup company Leap Motion, then you know they’ve skewed towards the latter in creating the next evolutionary step in how we use our computers.
Basically, Leap Motion is a computer peripheral that replaces your keyboard and mouse with hand gestures. Think of the Xbox Kinect, just way better and used in everything as well as gaming. Want to check a 3D map of the world to find out what borders Eritrea? Just twist your finger as if you were actually spinning a globe and spread your hands apart to zoom in. I’m not sure what it does when you scratch your head, wondering where Eritrea even is. Though there isn’t a specific release date yet for the device, pre-orders are available for $76 after shipping, which seems extremely cheap to me if it indeed manages to upend traditional methods of PC interaction. Buyers can expect their purchase sometime in early 2013, according to the website.
To make the initial purpose sweeter, Leap Motion is giving away 10,000 devices to software developers, hoping to launch with an app store that rivals most mobile devices. Additionally, a library of pre-defined interaction APIs have been added to the developer kits. This is primarily so developers can avoid the work of applying their own hand gestures by choosing from those already available. This will probably help users as well, who probably won’t want to learn an entire arsenal of finger flips and wrist pops in order to save a homemade peach wine recipe to their Pintrest board.
The options are seemingly limitless for the many ways the technology can be used. Leap Motion started a YouTube page of third-party developer videos showing off in ways the device has been adapted for typing and blasting Doom demons. The two videos below focus on those most important of computer functions: music creation and casual gaming. All the medical stuff can wait.