‘The motion-control bubble has burst’ you may well think, and while it can appear as though hands-free devices are going the same way as plastic guitars and drum kits, the truth is far less black and white. In reality motion-control devices are becoming the norm; they’re here to stay, and so there’s perhaps less need to shout about them now than there was when Nintendo launched the Wii seven years ago.
The latest device to join the ranks is Leap Motion, a PC exclusive piece of kit that offers some impressive interaction. It’s surprisingly diminutive form belies the versatility of the hardware, capable of creating a field of interaction far wider than its physical quality would suggest. In effect this is what Leap Motion does – creates a field in the space above the device where hand movements can be measured and gestured captured – in a similar fashion to the Xbox 360’s Kinect.
The Orientation software bundled with Airspace (the associated software store) does a good job of demonstrating the Leap Motion device’s strengths and weaknesses. This is a device built for assessing and measuring digits but it does not train to the size or shape of an individual, and as such closing the gap between your fingers will inevitably confuse the detection. This will provide problems for some applications, however it’s certain that many developers will quickly adapt their software to deal with such issues.
The device itself is far smaller than you may imagine, less than an inch deep and no more than three inches long. Its base is rubberised to prevent unintended movement and its top surface is glass through which its field of detection is projected. It’s lightweight and highly portable, and given its confidently gripping base and near-universal compatibility it would be easy to use the device on a train or plane, should you be able to counteract the forced movement from the motion of your transport.
A huge array of software and a smartly compact presentation, the Leap Motion is unquestionably the best motion-control device currently available for modern PCs. The retail price of the device is likely to be the biggest barrier for entry – especially given the costly nature of some of it’s applications – but given that there’s simply no better alternative those looking to bring motion-control to their PC – for work, gaming or entertainment of any kind – will undoubtedly find that the Leap Motion satisfies most of their demands.