Leap adds motion sensing control to any PC or Mac -- for only $70

Leap adds motion sensing control to any PC or Mac -- for only $70

Summary: Step aside, touchscreens. A simple iPod-sized gadget promises to add Minority Report or Iron Man-style motion sensing control to any desktop or notebook computer -- all for $70.

TOPICS: Hardware, Laptops, PCs

Forget touch-enabled systems, a small iPod-sized peripheral called Leap promises to add motion sensing to any PC or Mac -- for $70.

Leap is described as "an entirely new way to interact with your computers" and claims to be more accurate than using a mouse, as reliable as using a keyboard and more sensitive than any touchscreen. The device, which sits on the desk either in front of the keyboard or screen, is claimed to be 200 times more accurate than any other device on the market and can track the movement of a finger or pen down to an accuracy of 1/100th of a millimeter.

That's extremely accurate.

According to the blurb, using Leap is easy. You plug it into a free USB port, load the software, calibrate the system by waving your hands, and you're done.

After it is set up, the Leap uses natural gestures such as tapping, grabbing and pinching to control software on the PC. Moreover, if the video is representative of the final product, Leap seems like it is both incredibly accurate and exceedingly easy to use.

Motion sensing technology is interesting because it eliminates a number of problems that are associated with touchscreen technology. There's no need to actually touch the screen, which keeps it clean and eliminates wobble, you can choose how far you have to reach forward with your hands without having to compromise on screen distance, and you can use tools such as pens and pencils to point -- something that both won't work and isn't recommended with a touchscreen display.

I'm usually wary of technology that looks like it has been inspired by movies such as Minority Report or Iron Man, but this technology seems very interesting, and in fact, Leap seems to be better suited to desktop and notebook use than Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor. And at $70, you don't need Tony Stark's bank balance to afford it.

This simple peripheral could make Windows 8 on desktop and notebook more usable, and allow the touch-enabled features to leverage without the need to buy and fit new screens.

Leap is currently available for pre-order and is expected to ship February 2013. Developers can get their hands on an SDK by filling in an application form.

Image source: Leap.

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, PCs

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  • Proof will be in the using...

    One would think they could get some eval units into the hands of some key media testers for a few weeks to help them validate and refine the functionality. This COULD be a boon to Windows 8 upgrades, because it could allow a $110 upgrade ($40 for Windows 8 and $70) for this product to retro-fit existing Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc... PCs.
    I would think $70 may be a bit high, especially if the functionality is less than described.
    Maybe Microsoft will be smart, quickly buy the Company, and then sell these units bundled with Windows 8 upgrades for a total Price of about $80.
    Time will tell.
    • I don't think Microsoft should be the company to buy this...

      ... as it would pretty much kill Kinect on the desktop. This seems like something that Logitech or Belkin would be better at marketing, especially since it also has Mac compatibility.
  • Yawn....

    That is all...
  • Skeptical, but hopeful

    This could be a huge benefit if it works reasonably close to the demo.
  • Vaporware always looks good

    That being said, I look forward to seeing it in stores and giving it a test run.

    Any indication of what the hardware and software requirements are? I can see a market for it if it lets people "sign' documents.

    I saw them waving a pencil in the air. That is of limited use to me. But if it will accept input when I'm writing on a surface, that also has potential.
    • Horizontal use

      The device obviously isn't limited to vertical use. For horizontal use just turn it on a side, so input surface is horizontal, although it would need to be calibrated for proper use.