A San Francisco startup is working on a plug-and-play device that would let people pinch, draw and mold on their computers with hand and finger gestures. The system, called Leap, will have a precision of one-hundredth of a millimeter – about 100 times finer than any other gesture-recognizing system available now, the company claims – so it can distinguish between individual fingers. Leap will only cost $70, according to the company's site, which is half of the $150 retail price for Microsoft's motion control Kinect system.
Leap users should be able to plug a flash drive-size USB device into their Mac or PC computers. The device's sensors will create a 3-D space in front of it where it'll detect people's hands and fingers. How big the space will be seems to be under development still: The company's website says eight cubic feet, while a company press release says four cubic feet. Networking several Leap devices together will create a larger interaction space, according to the company site.
A video from Leap's makers shows the system's users writing in the air with their fingers and with pencils. They scroll and pinch like they would on a touch device and play video games ranging from Fruit Ninja to first-person shooters. People could use Leap to sign online documents, draw in 2-D and 3-D programs and manipulate models in 3D programs, the company said in a statement. In the future, developers could use Leap technology to make programs that let surgeons flip through charts on a computer without taking off their gloves, or allow engineers to mold virtual clay by patting the air like they would real clay.
The company is taking pre-orders, as well as applications for development kits from people who want to program for Leap. Leap's makers expect to start shipping their device in the winter.