What is it?
The Leap Motion Controller (LMC) is a mobile hardware sensor device that supports hand and finger gestures as input, allowing you to interact with your computing device with no contact.
Why is it awesome?
The device is far from perfect, but I was blown away with the amount of power available in such a small package and low price point, especially with it being a product commercially available to the public. Because it has fingertip level recognition (as opposed to hand-level recognition on a similar product like the Kinect), not only does it significantly expand the horizon on gesture possibilities, but it also allows the user to be efficient, requiring a lot less physical energy to accomplish a task via gestures. Partners like Hewlett Packard and Asus are still trying to determine the best applications of the LMC. A seemingly obvious use case is 3D modeling and visualization. At any rate, the true excitement surrounding the LMC comes from what we’ll be able to do with it in the future.
A glimpse into the coming years
Lets assume that Leap motion continues to progress the technology behind the LMC. One day it may very well become possible to embed the technology into something smaller than the laptops that it currently can be found in – something like a watch. This gesture-enabled watch, when synced with a wearable mobile device like Google Glass, could drastically change how we navigate the everyday world. For instance, let’s say you’re walking through a mountainous trail for exercise and fatigue suddenly sets over you. With effortless movements of your fingers and wrist in the air over your watch, the LMC could allow you to control and adjust a terrain/elevation-sensitive Google Earth map (pulled up at eye-level on Glass), giving you infinite views of the easiest route out of the mountainous trail.
In the operating room, Doctors will have to worry no longer about sterility issues associated with interacting with technology. They will be able to refer to and manipulate 3D images of organs (displayed on a head-up display like Glass or nearby flat panels) as they perform surgery. Mechanics will no longer have to worry about oil and grease-drenched hands damaging computing equipment. They will be able to refer to and manipulate 3D images of automobile parts as they operate on your vehicle, zooming in and panning around as needed to ensure that they install components just right. Not to sound too optimistic, but if they continue to work to find the key use cases/application of the LMC, the future of Leap Motion is quite bright.