First Leap
Playing with a Leap Motion controller

The Leap Motion, a tiny motion controller promising interaction with your computer via pinpoint accurate hand-waggling. This week I received my pre-order, and jumped right into trying out some of the apps on ‘Airspace’, the Leap Motion's equivalent to Apple's App Store.

The setup was quick and easy, the Calibration and Visualisation apps used to show you how your Leap is performing being quite impressive, the tracking speed and accuracy matching well with performed gestures. However, upon trying third party apps and games the Leap starts to suffer. Modes of interaction, and gestural inputs required to interact with apps are very different across the board, as a ‘interaction language’ is still to be standardised for simple interactions such as navigating UI.

Due to either a lack of familiarity with the current API, or the best settings for Leap, many of the applications tried struggled to achieve smooth and ‘transparent’ interaction. Hopefully this is something that can be improved as time goes on, and as updates for the device are released. In the couple of days I have been playing with the Leap several updates have already been sent out, hopefully the development team can keep up this pace of updates and the tracking will improve.

In the near-term future the kind of apps that are being built are something that are not best suited to full body gestural tracking. They have value, but also have an issue where they still require the immediacy of input a mouse button provides. The current range of apps require you to perform an gesture to trigger things, which is imprecise. The kind of interaction this type of technology seems better suited to is as a positional sensor, with great accuracy, repeatability, and low drift.

Currently, it seems like there are no apps that really showcase the full potential of the Leap. But there are plenty of apps to provide a nice spectacle, and show off some of the possibilities of the Leap Motion. I'm looking forward to seeing what people come up with using this new controller.

July 2013