Leap Motion Gesture Motion Controller for PC or Mac Review – What is the Leap Motion Controller and How Does it Help You?
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With technology more prominent than it has ever been, the Leap Motion Controller is taking the world by storm, and radically changing the way we use our computers. Available for both PC and Mac, this innovative technology integrates motion-sensing technology into any laptop or desktop computer that has a USB port. The best part is that it only sells for about $79, which is an amazing bargain. In the following Leap Motion Gesture Motion Controller review sections, we’ll talk more about what it has to offer.
Leap Motion Controller Price
The Leap Motion Controller sells for $79.99, which is a quality bargain in most people’s opinions. The majority of the apps for the device cost similar to that of a regular iPad app – between $0.99 and $2.99 on average.
Overview – What Should Users Expect From the Leap Motion Controller?
The Leap Motion Controller provides users with the ability to control what’s happening on their laptop or desk computer without using a mouse or keyboard – all navigating is done through hand gestures. In the end, this should help the user have a smoother, more enjoyable experience on their computers.
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The Controller – Specifications and Style
The Leap Motion Controller is very small, measuring less than an inch thick. In fact, it’s no larger than a pack of gum, being measured at 0.5-inches x 3-inches x 1.2-inches. Users will appreciate that this device offers a minimalistic design, something that should allow it to blend seamlessly with any style laptop or desktop computer.
The outer edges of the device are constructed from bare metal while the bottom has a rubber sheet which serves as a non-sliding grip. Finally, a small strip of glossy finish can be found on the top of the device. The device’s classy and visually appealing look definitely makes it appear more expensive than it really is.
Connecting the Leap Motion Controller
The Leap Motion Controller will connect to a computer through a USB 3.0 (although USB 2.0 cards are also compatible) device. There are longer, 60-inch connector cables and shorter, 24-inch cables that come with the motion controller. If you were to take a look at the inside of the device, you would see a trio of glowing red spots – these LED illuminators are the sensors responsible for recognizing your gestures.
The controller’s LED illuminators have a field of view of about 150-degrees, which is quite good. Since the “gesture space” is determined by the motion controller and not the actual computer, you’ll experience the same range of motion with a 60-inch monitor as you would with an 11-inch netbook. On a final note, the Leap Motion Controller doesn’t do any real processing – this all shifts to the PC.
Activating the controller is a little more difficult than plugging in a mouse, and requires that you download and install a piece of software beforehand. Users will be required to visit the official setup page for the device – www.LeapMotion.com/setup – where they’ll then selection their operating system (Mac or Windows) followed by starting their download.
An installation wizard will then walk the user throughout the remainder of the setup. Note: you’ll be required to create an account on “Airspace” (Leap Motion’s official software environment for the device and related software). All it takes is a password and email, then you’ll be ready to go. Note that your Airspace account is where you’ll be downloading apps in the future, and upon creating your account, you’ll automatically be given six of them.
Getting Started With the Device
Upon installing and activating the device, you’ll be guided through a demo that will help you understand the functionalities of the device and how they work. The demo will allow users to become acquainted with the device in a fun and unique way. Overall, this allows the user to develop a feel for the shape and size of the interactive area above the sensor.
One of the prominent benefits associated with the Leap Motion Controller is that it takes traditional 2D tracking that most of us are used to and adds a third dimension to it. Not only can users control their device by moving up, down, left, and right, but they can also control it moving forwards and backwards. This provides the user with a lot of flexibility and allows them to use the device in a very natural manner.
Interactive Demos Teach Users How to Properly Use the Device
The second half of the orientation demo goes into a bit more detail, displaying a set of glowing wireframe hands. This demonstrates to the user just how accurate the controller is at not just tracking your hands, but also your wrist, palms, and individual fingers. This is where users might notice a glowing limitation – when you place one hand too closer to the other, the one in the back will disappear.
This is because the device can’t see through hands, and this can be an issue when you’re using the device from awkward angles. The third and final part of the demo includes a drawing exercise which allows you to draw on the screen using a single fingertip. Squiggle and doodle to your heart’s delight as you become familiarized with how the device works and where its gesture-recognition boundaries are.
Apps and the Airspace Store
The Airspace Store is the official Leap Motion app store where you can find a relatively large collection of both free and paid apps. These apps are available for both Windows and Mac (often for both), and are surprisingly unique in design and function. During the device’s launch, there were around 80 fully functional apps available.
Upon signing up, a user’s Airspace account is going to come with a few apps already installed – 6 hand-selected apps designed to show you the full range of the device. One of the more interesting ones is “Lotus”, a psychedelic experience that incorporates sitar music, a giant eyeball, and the ability to trigger sounds using hand motions.
“Corel Painter Freestyle” is a paint app while “Deco Sketch” is a tool that can be used to manipulate photos. The app “Drop Chord” is an electronic-music inspired game while “Boom Ball” is a 3D game that allows users to control a ball using a gloved hand and paddle. All of these apps are not only fun, but will allow you to become better acquainted with what the device has to offer.
Other Popular Leap Motion Apps
Other apps that users might find appealing include “Flocking” (an app that allows you to control a swarm of pixels using your hands), “Block 54” (could closely be compared to that of a Jenga tower), “Gorogoa” (a fascinating and interactive story app), “Escape Velocity” (an app that allows you to pilot a starship by panning and tilting your hand), “Cyber Science Motion” (a digital skull that you can dissect and reassemble in order to each yourself anatomy), and finally, “Geco” (an MIDI music generator).
With a few exceptions, the majority of these apps are games designed for entertainment. And while they offer a nice, novel experience, they aren’t exceptionally useful for being productive or getting things done. The one exception to this is an app called “Touchless”. Designed for Windows (with a version available for Mac), it will allow you to use your Leap Motion Controller in a regular PC setting – open and close windows, access the Internet, and even locate files.
How Accurate is the Motion Controller at Recognizing Hand Gestures?
This is one of the main concerns that users tend to have regarding the Leap Motion Controller. To answer this question, it really depends on what you’re using it for. For instance, when using the device in a regular Windows environment, you might find it difficult, and even exhausting, to get the mouse to go to where you want it to go.
However, when it comes to actual Airspace apps, the device seems to fare quite well. It will pick up well on hand gestures, and there will be virtually no lag when you are using these apps. Just don’t get your hopes up when trying to use the motion controller in a regular Windows environment as it might not be as interactive as you might like it to be.
A Proof-of-Concept Device with a Lot of Potential
The Leap Motion Controller is a proof-of-concept device that sheds some light on the future capabilities of this type of technology. Similar to the Xbox Kinect, it will provide users with the ability to navigate their computer and apps using natural motions and hand gestures. Plus, a lot of the hand gestures are relatively easy to perform and require seconds to learn.
The device’s finger tracking is amazing, and there are a variety of applications where this type of technology is going to become prevalent. It’s clearly a huge step forward in the world of interface technology, but it still has a lot of progress to be made. Although it can provide anyone with a novel gaming experience, it lacks the practicality that most users would expect from a device like this.
Secondly, while the device’s tracking is relatively accurate, you still might find it difficult to be as precise as you might like. For instance, opening and closing windows, shifting between specific pages, and even scrolling could pose a challenge. For regular navigating, this is a problem that can definitely be improved upon.
In the future, as more and more practical apps start being created for the Leap Motion Controller, it’s going to be a very practice and streamlined product to own. Today, it remains a novel toy that can be used to play games and replace traditional gaming experiences – but that’s all.
Pros – What Are The Advantages of Leap Motion Gesture Motion Controller?
This gesture-based, motion-sensing piece of technology is offered for a great bargain. It’s relatively easy to set-up and connect, and works for Mac and Windows on any display size. Plus, there are dozens of apps available for the controller, most of which are either free or very inexpensive.
The Leap Motion Controller allows you to move in all of the wide-open space between you and your computer. This means that you can perform a variety of functions without having to touch a mouse or keyboard. Another major advantage to the device is that it’s quite small, taking up very little space on your computer.
The field of view for the controller is 150-degrees, which is quite extensive, and in a Z-axis perspective (so that you can move your hands in any direction and have the device pick up on it). Finally, the leap motion controller can capture your movements at a rate that exceeds 200 frames per second, which is amazing, and creates virtually no lag in the system.
Cons – What Are The Drawbacks of Leap Motion Gesture Motion Controller?
There have been some complaints regarding the inaccuracy of the sensor. More specifically, it might not always register a hand position the right way. This is especially true when you’re using the device to navigate regular Windows. However, when you’re using it for apps, it won’t be as much of an issue.
App quality can also be an issue considering that some are barely functional. Plus, a lot of the apps are simply designed for gaming purposes and not enough emphasis was placed on making them practical. Finally, the Leap Motion Gesture Motion Controller isn’t recommended for productivity as it can be difficult to use at times.
The Leap Motion Controller is definitely well-ahead of its time, and allows us to experience technology at its finest. It’s cheaper than you think, and when it works right, will make you feel like you’ve acquired a piece of futuristic technology.
At this present moment, it shows great depth and potential as to what this type of innovation will be able to offer in the future. Just don’t expect it to surpass your expectations in regards to practicality, because it still has a long way to go in that department.