What is Leap Motion? by Gabe Fadel

The Leap Motion is a new piece of technology that allows users to interact with their computers in an entirely unique way, with their hands.  The Leap is a tiny piece of hardware, just three inches long and connects to any PC or Mac via USB.  The device works by using Infrared cameras to create a virtual grid above the device about three feet wide.  The user put their hands above the Leap and the sensors detect the motions made by the user’s hands and recreate them on the computer.

The Leap in action:

The Leap has a number of apps available on its webstore, some for free and some paid.  Some apps are centered around creative activities like sculpting, painting and drawing.  There is also a small selection of games or software that lets you control video games.  Other are more functional, like music or different types of computer control.  Others still are more educational, they have explorable simulations and diagrams.

Now Leap has partnered with the Oculus Rift group to create a unique new project.  The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that displays 2D media in a 3D format.  Leap Motion and Oculus Rift have jointly developed a mount that allows you to attach the Leap Motion to the front of the headset.  This allows the user to control a program with the Leap Motion while experiencing it in virtual reality environment.

Leap and Oculus

In it’s current state the Leap has a lot of potential for development.  Developers are constantly working at creating new software for the Leap and it expanding its functionality.  Should the Leap hit the mainstream market, I believe we could see a surge in consumer oriented applications.  The Leap also holds potential educational uses, especially when partnered with the Oculus Rift.  It would allow students to experience information in a new environment, and it would be interesting to see how students and teacher react to this experience.  In conclusion I find the Leap Motion to be an interesting piece of technology that hold potential in both consumer and educational orientated environments.