If you’ve seen Iron Man or the massively popular Avengers movie, you’ve likely coveted how Tony Stark was able to interface with his computer: three dimensional holographic display that responded to natural gestures, no keyboard required. How would you feel to know that it’s now a lot closer to reality?
Leap is quite simply the next step in computer interface and control. The iPod-sized device and accompanying software creates a three dimensional plane that senses the position of your hands and fingers in real time; providing a whole new realm of possibilities. The demo video does more than words ever could (if you look closely one the games being demonstrated is one of my all time favorites- the Lost Coast chapter of the venerable Half Life series!):
It’s only available as a pre-order, but the cost is a surprising $69.99- less than the Kinect interface for the XBox 360 yet far more sensitive. Leap will be compatible with both OSX and Windows versions 7 and 8. Set up is about as simple as possible- plug in the unit to a USB port, load the software, and do a quick wave through the sensor plane to calibrate. Some of the non-game interactions mimic tablet touchscreen functions without actual physical contact. This would be of great benefit with computers in a healthcare setting; the spread of infection from touch is a constant concern, and disinfecting equipment is both time consuming and causes wear and tear on the devices (when it is even done- keyboards and mice are rarely thought of as a vector for infection yet they are touched throughout the day by healthcare providers).
I find this sort of new technology absolutely fascinating, particularly for OSX. Apple has already laid a good foundation for an interface like Leap through OSX’s multitouch gestures; a third party input like Leap would mesh well with existing features. Since the introduction of the Magic Trackpad I’ve only used a mouse for gaming; the trackpad is far easier and more functional than even Apple’s competing Magic Mouse. The makers of Leap are looking for developers to help take advantage of the possibilities of this new input, but even a Luddite should realize its value.