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User manipulating map with Leap gesture controller

Leap Motion shows how gesture control can beat touch screens

Leap Motion has released a brief video showing how the Leap controller will work with Windows 7 and, especially, Windows 8. The company expects to launch the controller on July 22 for $80.

The video is fairly short, but it shows how a desktop computer monitor can be turned into something like a touch screen, except of course that the user doesn’t actually touch the screen. Swipes, pinches and other gestures made in front of the screen get the job done, keeping monitors free of smudges from users’ taps and swipes.

Back when I made my 2013 predictions, I said that the market for touch screens at the desktop level would rapidly grow because Windows 8 as works best with a touch screen. For people using Windows 8 with traditional monitors, the user experience is a little clunky because the interface and conventions invite them to touch the screen as if they were working on a tablet, even if they don't have that capability.

Now I may have to adjust that prediction: desktop users may just skip touch screens in favor of gesture control. Leap Motion says that its controller is in many ways better than a touch screen, which combined with a low price and the proliferation of Windows 8 in government, could make the Leap standard equipment.

"Everything you can do with a touch-based system, like Windows 8, can now be accomplished with Leap Motion technology," said David Holz, co-founder and CTO of Leap Motion. "But this is only the beginning. The potential for our 3D interaction technology is really unleashed by applications built specifically for Leap Motion, helping drive the future of computing." NASA, for example, is considering using Leap Motion to control robots on Mars.

Back when we did our Windows 8 review, we expected there would be a bit of a learning curve for new users. Although a device like the Leap Motion controller won't eliminate that curve altogether, it certainly will flatten it out. Users of Windows 8 on a tablet will have an easier time with the new OS because of their touch screen, but the Leap could put desktop users on equal, if not better, footing.

The Leap controller also works with Mac OS. As with a Windows PC, the controller just plugs into a free USB port. And we are starting to see some computer manufacturers integrate Leap directly into their products.

GCN plans to officially review the Leap Motion controller once it's available, but for now, everything seems to point toward it being a transformative experience when used in conjunction with most modern operating systems.

Posted by John Breeden II on May 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM


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