Martech & Bits. Hands-on: Leap Motion

The VR is here, will it succeed? We believe so, and we present you a big player; The Leap Motion.

Virtual Reality, the magic of creating a new dimension; a parallel one to our life in which we can have new experiences in a fully new environment. We have had a sneak preview with the Oculus Rift. But the fact is that the Oculus doesn’t track your movements, it just creates the scenery The Leap Motion not just tracks your movements, it converts them in action.

The Leap Motion is a small device that goes in front of your computer (or embedded in it), and tracks the movements of your hands (both as the same time if you wish), and converts your movement in actions. This is possible thanks to a pair of CCD cameras and iinfrared lights, that combined with a powerful algorithm make a 2D image into a 3D image. This makes simple the determination of each vector registered that is translated into movement.

Inside a Leap Motion: The pair of CCD cameras.

For developers the possibilities are endless because the Leap Motion’s team made and insanely big effort to give support to all kind of developers with the SDK. The V2 track beta is simply amazing; it has integration even with HTML; this makes websites that are actually supporting this device. You can check the demos at https://developer.leapmotion.com/

For regular users the experience is great, but it requires a painfully long training, because the device is really precise, which makes really difficult to control, because if you happen so shake your hands the device will notice and will make a mess, but for the rest of the experience you will look just like Tony Stark or some kind of billionaire guy from the future.

In the Demo Videos, the Leap Motion team showed videos in which were performed really cool thing using just hands or common tools (like a pencil), you could even put your hand as a gun and use it in the shooter games. The reality is really different.

I’ve been hanging out with a Leap Motion since it launched on 2013, and the first month it was both reason for excitement and for disappointment, first of all it was announced the launch of a App Store (called Airspace Store); it was launched but the store was weak and with very few options; In general just a couple of apps were really great.

Then the Store started to grow but not as fast as it was promised, and the apps were not as accurate as they should; for example using the Google earth add-on was extremely difficult. If you moved your hand a bit the map would go from watching your hand to somewhere in the arctic pole.

But there were other really interesting and promising Apps, for example playing Cut the Rope was extremely pleasant and fun. Betting on simple movements and not on precising ones is the key. If you don’t believe me, try using “Touchless”; this app makes your hand act like a mouse for you Mac/PC. After less than 10 minutes your arm hurts and you are simply annoyed because if you put a hand on your chin you won’t be able to control your cursor on the screen.

The picture above, shows a pair of hands acting like… in a natural way, but a computer is not designed to be used with this kind of technology, so trying to make natural movements in the apps is not as satisfying as you think.

Does it have potential? Yes. But just for developers, for projects and for geeks. For most of the people, this device won’t have a good performance and the Apps won’t be attractive. Does it have a future? Probably. But I bet there won’t be a 2nd version soon; It simply doesn’t make sense, because the product is great and the potential is huge, the problem are the Apps and the lack of a good reason to change a mouse for hands on the air. This product is definitely way ahead of its time.

If you still have interest because you are a developer or just want to show up; buy it. Otherwise, this will end in the corner of your table. Available for $99.99 on Best Buy and on http://store-world.leapmotion.com/

Design: 4.5 out of 5.

Usability: 2 out of 5.

General Experience using it: 3 out of 5

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