Leap Motion is real gee whiz — a motion controlling system that’s 200 times more accurate than Microsoft’s Kinect at a stunningly low price of $70. The motion fidelity and tracking in this video are, quite frankly, incredible (watch the hand demo at the end closely). But with the exception of manipulating 3D models and navigating fully three-dimensional interfaces, nothing demoed in this video, with a guy sitting at a desktop PC, looks easier or more intuitive than using a multitouch trackpad or mouse.
If you’re sitting at your desk, or reasonably close, why would you want to wave your arm in front of your computer to scroll through a web page or zoom in on a map when you could flick two fingers? Or draw in the air, when something like a Wacom tablet would be more precise and less tiring?
Right now this kind of motion technology seems to make the most sense at a distance, at least in the consumer space — like, say, when you’re 10 feet away from your TV and you don’t want a keyboard or mouse in your living room, so it’s the most natural way to browse the web on your TV for a few minutes to find a video to watch while your arms recover from flailing around. Which is why Kinect sort of works and the motion controls for Samsung’s Smart TVs don’t sound terrible as a concept. Of course, companies have been trying to cram motion into all kinds of things without letting awkwardness stand in the way: PC controllers, phones, laptops
So, you’re wondering, what’s it good for, besides making hot sizzle reels? Well, Leap Motion seems to hope developers will help it figure that out. CEO Michael Buckwald tells CNET:
“We believe that ultimately, the sheer number of use cases for this technology are so great that the value can only be realized by making it open. So think what would have happened if the mouse had been initially been released as a closed technology. The impact would have been a tiny, tiny percentage of what the impact was because it was an open system that anyone could develop for.”
In other words they’re not quite sure! But this could be the new mouse. You know, if somebody does figure it out.