One small step for hands, one giant Leap for GUI’s

On May 28, 2012

There are not many bits of new technology that cause me to whip out my card and impulse buy. The Raspberry Pi was the last piece of interesting tech that made me reach for the wallet and start typing those numbers, even knowing I’d have to wait several months before getting my hands on it.

Last week saw not only me bow down to techie wonderment and go for the plastic, but most of the people in my office followed. The new 3d motion controller from Leap Motion is what made us go a little bit giddy, claiming to be 200 times more accurate than an xbox kinect and able to track your movement to 1/100th of a millimeter.

It took all of a mad dash to my bag (and then slight panic that my wallet was gone, to find it on my desk) to put my name in for a pre-order. Then my colleague Marc (@marcrose) soon followed suit. Then another colleague Brendan (@NerdVSWorld) and a student Hakaam (@H_Singh91) and before we knew it, Leap Motion had bagged $280 from our faculty office alone – in about 30 minutes. Yes the video is slick and it’s all FutueShock and we’re all just boys with our toys – but I genuinely jaw dropped when I saw this in use on Wired’s site, saying it was the “Best Gesture-Control System We’ve Ever Tested”.

It’s a product that we will have to wait until December/January for, but I’ll be more than happy to get this as a belated xmas present from myself (I just hope future Dean is grateful for the gesture). It’s worth pointing out here that Leap Motion will not charge you a cent until the little box of magic tricks in on its way to you. This means you are not being charged upfront to cover development or marketing costs, you’re just put in front of the crowd who will be gnashing to get one of these.

I never really bought into the kinect controller. When I tried it, it was clunky and didn’t quite give the sense of accuracy I thought was needed for a handsfree controller. It has some great features, don’t get me wrong, but there was always something lacking for me. Then there was the price point, and the lack of games available at launch. Even now as a common appliance to many a kids bedroom, the device still doesn’t integrate well (if at all) into their most popular titles such as Call of Duty or FIFA. However, as the integration with the OS menus has improved, it has made me more tempted.

For us in the Pro Audio industry, it’s fun to predict its potential uses. There’s the usual theremin or Kaoss controller idea’s that come to mind, and the potential for mixing tracks while trying to be Tom Cruise in Minority Report. However, I’d like to see how somebody like Notion Music could integrate it with their conducting software. For myself, panning by waving my hands a bit might be fun, especially in surround sound for post – Jedi pan automation anyone??!

If you can’t wait for six months or so, go and take a look at the art project over at the Tate website. The airbrush game over at Tate Kids allows you to paint using your webcam. Probably not as accurate, but still pretty fun.

Speaking of fun, my Raspberry Pi came today, so I’m off to figure out this Fedora SD card image writing nonsense :-p

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