Is This the Best Gesture Control System Ever?

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Gesture control as we know it is rudimentary at best. But a new San Francisco startup called Leap Motion has just announced a new 3D motion control system that its claims is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — and it's set to be pretty cheap too.

CNET reports that Leap Motion's technology uses a small USB input device — though the company doesn't reveal what kinds of sensors it uses — and some sophisticated software in order to provide accuracy of around a hundredth of a millimetre. That means that their gesture control system can handle touch-style gestures, like pinch-to-zoom. Leap Motion plans to launch the device early next year.

The device monitors a space four cubic feet in size, and can deftly track individual finger tips, the whole hand, or inanimate objects. It's well worth watching the video to get a feel for how it works — because it's really impressive. In particular, the gestures we've come to expect on touch-screen devices look incredibly smooth.

It's immediately obvious that there are some applications that it would be well suited to — for, say, the likes of surgeons or engineers — but at around £50 it will no doubt land in a lot of homes. Michael Buckwald, Leap Motion CEO, explained to CNET:

"We want there to be world-changing applications that fundamentally transform how people interact with their operating system or browse the Web.... The goal is to fundamentally transform how people interact with computers and to do so in the same way that the mouse did, which means that the transformation affects everyone, both from the most basic use case all the way up to the most advanced use cases you can imagine for computing technology."

While Kinect piqued the world's interest in gesture control, it's always been relatively clunky. Whether it's Leap Motion or some other manufacturer that finally releases a fine-grained system to market, at least this evidence suggests that it won't be long before it's actually useful. [CNET]