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One Giant Leap in Gestural Interface: Leap Motion First Look

18/04/2013 13:59 BST | Updated 18/06/2013 10:12 BST

At 24, the two co-founders of Leap Motion - Michael Buckwald and David Holz could be described as Wunderkind, but to label them as such, is disservice to the maturity and value of their vision.

They are the inventors of 'Leap Motion'; a gestural interface device - think an Xbox Kinect camera on steroids. The Leap motion device looks like a smaller version of an iphone 4S and - when sat on a desk for example - it lets you control virtual content on screens, or even physical objects, by waving your fingers in the air over it. It accurately tracks all ten fingers with a spooky degree of accuracy.

Having been lucky enough to experience a device demo at the interactive conference 'SXSW', I was really impressed. At the moment, the field of control is a bit limited by proximity, but this is bound to increase as the technology matures. We experienced great demos of games, musical instruments and also using the a device to control a real-world quadrotor drone. The most magical demo though was David Holz using it to sculpt 'virtual clay' in mid-air.

The closest rumoured competition to Leap Motion could come from Microsoft's 'Kinect 2' camera. But at 24 years of age, Leap Motion's creators have plenty of time to challenge Microsoft's R&D. Just yesterday, the BBC announced that Leap have just signed a significant deal to incorporate the technology into HP's PCs.

The promise of Leap Motion is not just in the accuracy of the fingertip control: bringing the dream of a 'Minority Report' interface much closer. Significant value lies in the open nature of the developer platform. Michael Buckwald spoke about this - "Everything that is, is not as good as it could be... Interfaces should not have to be learned, people should just be free to create."

The opportunity then is for developers working with the platform to co-create giant leaps in interface applications that could redefine art, theatre, music, and surgery (to name but a few sectors). With a growing trend towards an 'Invisible Interface', our sense of on Vs offline could be about to disappear, for good.

Leap Motion pre-orders will start to ship May 13th, 2013. 12,000 selected developers are already working on applications.

Pre-order units were priced at $79.99 at time of writing. (A total bargain that will wow your office or clients. We've ordered six.)

UPDATE 19/04/12: This blog previously stated the Leap Motion project was Kickstarter-funded. This was incorrect.