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Leap Motion controller working with a laptop

Next big thing: Motion control ready to take the Leap

The Leap Motion controller may be the biggest change to the PC landscape since the mouse. Whereas the mouse let us leave the clunky keyboard behind and navigate the many screens that the Web offers, it's still stuck in the two-dimensional, physical world. The Leap Controller isn't bound by those rules, which lets users wave their hands to control computers. It’s the next step in human and machine interfaces.

We've already seen some baby steps for Leap into public sector. Engineers at NASA are experimenting with using the controller to move colossal-sized robots in space. And when Leap put out a call last year for developers to create uses for the controller, it got more than 26,000 responses, including 1,500 from universities researchers and students, according to PC World.

The Leap controllers might make the jump to desktops and notebooks sooner than expected. Leap just struck a deal with Hewlett-Packard to bring the controller into HP devices. That relationship will start with the Leap Motion Controller bundled with select HP products and evolve to unique HP devices embedded with Leap Motion's technology. In January, Leap had announced that it also would be appearing in Asus PCs sometime this year, as Gizmag reported in January.

"Our focus at Leap Motion is to fundamentally improve how people interact with their devices and offer as many ways as possible to achieve that vision," Leap Motion co-founder and CEO Michael Buckwald said in a statement. "The possibilities for innovation are incredible, when you think about what will come from this collaboration between two respected global leaders in their fields."

The HP computers with the Leap controller will also have access to the Airspace store, which has apps to make the Leap devices even more effective.

"Customers want to go to the next level when creating and interacting with digital content," said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president and general manager for consumer PCs at HP, in the joint statement. "Leap Motion's groundbreaking 3D motion control combined with HP technology and amazing developer apps will create incredible user experiences."

Leap Motion Controllers will start appearing inside HP devices as early as this summer, about the same time that the stand-alone controller is expected to go on sale for less than $100. Individual sales will certainly help with Leap adoption, but getting them embedded in machines will speed that up considerably.

I for one am really looking forward to getting the Leap -- and motion control in general --  out there in the mainstream. In the video games world, I've seen how a similar device, the Microsoft Kinect transformed gaming on the Xbox 360 -- and it now also can be used with Windows.

I'm confident that adding motion control to more serious computer applications will be the next big thing. Carpal tunnel sufferers rejoice!

Posted by John Breeden II on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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