Leap motion controller starts shipping, in stores July 28

After being delayed by a couple of months, the Leap motion controller is finally shipping. Pre-orders started going out last week, according to Leap’s official blog, and the device is slated to be available at Best Buy starting July 28. Leap is also selling the motion controller through its online store for $80.

"Hundreds of thousands" of people have pre-ordered the Leap, according to today’s press release, and there appears to be a decent amount of software ready to support the motion controller. Leap’s Airspace Store has 75 applications, including games, productivity utilities, and creative tools. Most of the apps are free or cost only a few dollars. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone has come up with a Minority Report-style skin for Windows 8… yet.

If you’re not familiar with the Leap controller, the video below does a good job of highlighting what it’s all about.

The thumb-drive-sized device can track motion within an area of eight cubic feet. It’s sensitive enough to detect movements of just 0.01 millimeters, making the controller considerably more accurate than Microsoft’s current-generation Kinect system. Unlike Kinect, which is designed to track motions from across the room, the Leap is geared toward monitoring movements made directly in front of your PC.

Controlling your PC with an outstretched arm isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world—especially for prolonged periods. However, there’s something to be said for using gestures to augment more traditional PC interfaces. Windows 8’s touch-centric gestures might actually be useful on a desktop PC if they could be invoked by waving one’s hands just above the keyboard. Asus and HP have already pledged to integrate Leap’s controller into select systems, and with hundreds of thousands of devices in the hands of developers and early adopters, the technology might just catch on.

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    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    Too early to say, but this is the solution to touchscreens, which [i<]don't work*[/i<] on laptops/desktops. * - Don't argue with me here, they're all awful and you know it - and that's before you even consider ergonomics and smeary fingerprints all over your screen.

    • atcrank
    • 6 years ago

    I wonder if you would want this as an animator or a person working with 3D imaging. I reckon it could be really handy (hyuk hyuk) if you had some puppetry skill and wanted super-cheap mocap for a Blender model or similar for your models mouth movement, head tilt. I’m probably hugely underestimating the difficulty of translating mocap from one shape to a completely different shape.

    • izmanq
    • 6 years ago

    they need to combine this with oculus rift 😀

    • Sunking
    • 6 years ago

    Mine just arrived today (as a I learned from an excited phone call from my kids). Still at work, so haven’t used it yet.

    I just upgraded my rig to Haswell and took the plunge on Windows 8. Very interested to see how the Leap works with Win 8 — and if the Leap can make Win 8 better with a traditional desktop setup.

    Most likely outcome, though, is that my will kids want to play with it, thus denying me time with new addiction Kerbal Space Program (damn Steam summer sale). Gesture integration for KSP anyone?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    This is a very compelling technology/product. I hope to see it supported well.

    • Aliasundercover
    • 6 years ago

    From their web site, Minimum System Requirements
    Windows 7 or 8 or Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
    AMD Phenom II or Intel Core i3, i5, i7
    2 GB RAM
    USB 2.0 port
    Internet Connection

    Why does it need an internet connection?

    From a quick look at their EULA they claim authority to phone home, auto-update, report on the programs you use it with and, well, I don’t actually care what else.

    “Leap Motion Controller and Software. We collect information when you use the Leap Motion Controller (or a Leap Motion-authorized embedded optical module) and our software that works with it. When you use your device while your computer is connected to the internet, we collect the device ID of your controller or module, IP address, software version, operating system and hardware configuration. We also collect performance data such as frequency and duration of use, tracking performance, environmental conditions, distances of tracked objects from the device, and other performance data. We also collect technical error data such as the presence of smudges, calibration or synchronization errors or states, or other software or hardware errors or states. This information is tied to your device ID. In order to best provide products and services to you we associate your device IDs to your Leap Motion Account.”

    This isn’t an input device. It is a potted plant.

      • spugm1r3
      • 6 years ago

      Think of it like a beta test, despite it being commercially available. This isn’t like buying a new mouse, it’s the equivalent of inventing the mouse if an internet connection had been readily available in the 60s. If you could turn everyone that ever purchased your input device into a tester and make adjustments without ever having to actually contact your customers, from a business standpoint, you would do it too.

      Perhaps one-up on the mouse, this device has the potential to adapt to its users, rather than requiring its users to adapt to it. Look at the mouse that Englebart demonstrated and aside from tracking and aesthetics, how we use it is virtually the same.

      This isn’t malicious DRM a’ la EA, this is an opportunity to build a better device, faster, with less inconvenience to the customer.

    • Visigoth
    • 6 years ago

    I f*cking hate all these touch/motion based crap peripherals. When are we getting real-time, voice automated programs that can actually understand what we want to do? Voice is the next frontier, not this bullsh*t touch crap!

    • MadManOriginal
    • 6 years ago

    All this needs to do is be able to work in an area *not* immediately in front of the screen. It would be cool to be able to aim it at a desk surface for example, or some way such that any surface (or a few mm above a surface) becomes a ‘touch surface’ to interact with a screen.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 6 years ago

    Didn’t know about this until the article. I was facepalming so hard it left a mark about five or six seconds in. Drawing in mid air? Wow, that’s gotta be the most uncomfortable way to stylus anything. There are already decent wacom tablets for both professional and consumers alike that are way, WAY more comfortable than holding your arm up in the air.

    It’s pretty telling that 95% of the demonstrations for that product were for nothing productive or useful.

    Whatever happened to that motion-sensitive, two-handed, wireless controller thingy that Scott and/or Geoff tried out at a CES a few years ago? Did that ever come out?

    • brucethemoose
    • 6 years ago

    I want this in my laptop, as a replacement for a touchscreen.

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    I really want a Leap, but if I’d need Windows 8 to make the experience worthwhile I’m not sure I’ll be getting one.

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 6 years ago

      System Requirements
      –Windows 7 or 8 or Mac OS X 10.7 Snow Leopard
      –AMD PhenomTM II or Intel® CoreTM i3 / i5 / i7 Processor
      –2 GB RAM
      –USB 2.0 port
      –Internet connection

      How about applications and not just the OS? I can see this useful in browsing/watching movies.

    • drfish
    • 6 years ago

    Still very interested in this but planning on letting it mature a little before trying it.

    • mako
    • 6 years ago

    Mine is supposed to arrive today. I’m not sure how useful it’s going to be in practice, but it has a pretty high gee-whiz factor at least.

    • cheddarlump
    • 6 years ago

    I would much rather use this than touch my screen, as I’m super anal about smudges on the screen. I use my tablet all the time, and every time I do, I find myself constantly wiping off the glass.

    This has real potential anywhere that infection control is concerned: Keyboards are nasty and preventing nurses and doctors from having to touch something will help a lot.

    • jstern
    • 6 years ago

    Looks very interesting.

    • albundy
    • 6 years ago

    good tech, but i just find it ALOT easier to just use a regular mouse.

      • dragontamer5788
      • 6 years ago

      Its not about mouse vs Leap.

      Frankly, its touchscreen vs leap motion. And leap motion is much much easier to use in a desktop setting than a touchscreen.

        • holophrastic
        • 6 years ago

        Absolutely true. Start thinking of it as keyboard shortcuts without any keys. I’d love some weird hand-wave to simulate WIN-D. Not because WIN-D is difficult, but because I’d like it for other things. I love keyboard shortcuts for things that I do often. I’ll love hand motions for things that I do rarely.

        Or for the simple world of moving windows. Sure I can grab the mouse and drag the skinny little title bar. But I’d love the gesture to grab any part of the window, so I can drag it three screens away — what is in reality four feet away. An outstretched arm is perfect for that.

        Similarly, minimizing is a nuisance with a mouse. It’s even a nuisance with a keyboard. A hand flick would be perfect.

        So that’s what I’m saying. For low-resolution efforts (which still require high-resolution tracking, by the way) the gesture is a lot easier.

          • spugm1r3
          • 6 years ago

          Bump. Where this is going to be really useful is multi-screen setups, where window management can be tedious and time-consuming, not to mention a complete interruption to the workflow.

          Sure its a bit cliche, but the whole Minority Report thing really sticks in my head as the ideal end-use. I may never give up my keyboard and mouse, but managing my windows with a swipe or a flick would be great.

          • ermo
          • 6 years ago

          [quote<]" But I'd love the gesture to grab any part of the window, so I can drag it three screens away"[/quote<] Three screens away? What kind of crazy setup are you sporting, man? Anyway, in the Xfce desktop environment (and maybe also in gnome -- but they keep changing stuff gratuitously), it is common practice to have the [i<]Alt[/i<]-key configured such that if you hold down [i<]Alt[/i<] and drag with the left mouse button anywhere on a window, you move it. If you hold down [i<]Alt[/i<] and right-click instead, you resize the window. That's a pretty convenient feature, wouldn't you agree? That said, what you outline sounds pretty cool. It'll be interesting to see which usage scenarios will pop up with the Leap going forward. EDIT: Now that I think about it, it would be pretty cool if you had a velocity threshold above which a dragged object acquires inertia, and will only stop once it meets some configurable criteria, like meeting an edge (a way to minimize stuff in the classic desktop paradigm). Like when you push things out of the way, but they magically get put in a neat stack that you can shuffle through with [i<]Alt-Tab[/i<] or something along those lines...

          • Namarrgon
          • 6 years ago

          Having used one for a while, I wouldn’t really agree. It certainly has its place, and there are some applications where the richness of multi-dimensional analogue control is ideal, but of course it still suffers from the same “vagueness” that all gestural interfaces do.

          While the device itself is accurate, the latency is minimal, and they’ve made big strides on tracking robustness, I find it’s just not good for grabbing/touching anything small. There’s no tactile feedback and minimal muscle memory involved, so I still have to poke carefully in the right general area and hope.

          For simple gestures it’s fine, but the overhead in taking my hand off the mouse or keyboard and moving it over the Leap, gesturing, then moving my hand back & relocating it carefully where it was before, is just too high. I usually find it’s much easier to do it with the mouse or a keyboard shortcut. Maybe if it was built into the mouse or keyboard so I could waggle a finger without moving my hand? Dunno.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 6 years ago

        Touchscreens never ever make sense in a laptop/desktop environment. Touching the screen with your fingers is for mouth-breathers. It’s seriously the most annoying thing in the world when someone else touches my screen.

        Edit: Downvotes coming from screen-touchers, I guess. Enjoy your fingerprints on glossy screens.

          • tootercomputer
          • 6 years ago

          If you don’t have any, kids will cure t hat.

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