9 Unexpectedly Cool Leap Motion Apps Show Natural Interfaces in Action

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

It's been two weeks since Leap Motion appeared in the wild, and while it's far from being a perfect piece of hardware, the possibilities are pretty damn interesting. So far, most of the attention-getting apps have dealt with music. But there are plenty of other cool developments happening with the device, too.

One of the things that makes Leap Motion so indicative of where we're at with gestural, or "natural," interfaces is the fact that it follows a new model for hardware development: The tech comes first, the software second. Since the device emerged, developers have debuted dozens of new apps in the Airspace store. And it's more than just the dozens of different music manipulation tools (which are cool, of course). There are also apps for med students, chemists, and painters. We took a look at some of the coolest below.


Dissect a Frog

9 Unexpectedly Cool Leap Motion Apps Show Natural Interfaces in Action

Frog Dissection lets you get your hands dirty without, you know, getting your hands dirty — a major plus for people who have ethical qualms about killing animals.


Browse Anatomical Models During Surgery

Scopis Medical's system uses a Leap Motion to let surgeons navigate 3D models of patients as they operate — a smart use for the device, since touching a mouse (or a book) would contaminate their sterilised hands.


Control a Robotic Arm

Brian Harms, the SCI-Arc design researcher, showed off the script he wrote that uses Leap Motion to control a Staubli TX40 robotic arm. Harms uses Staublis to sculpt and design objects — and with this hack, it makes his creative process much more tactile.


Manipulate Your Own Voice

We had to include at least one audio app: Ryo Fujimoto, aka Japanese beatboxer Humanelectro, uses his Leap Motion to modulate his voice in real-time, making his gestures part of the performance.


Explore the Earth

Google announced Leap Motion capabilities in April. While we're already familiar with pinching-and-zooming to explore the globe, Leap Motion adds a bit of tactility to the experience.


Explore the Universe

The same goes for Exoplanet, a £3.30-odd app that invites you to gesture your way through galaxies near and far.


Model at the Molecular Scale

Molecules is the (free!) Leap Motion version of the popular molecular modelling app. It's easy to imagine how a gesturally-controlled science app like this one could make chemistry classes more engaging.



Since Leap Motion first appeared on our radar, the possibilities for graphics were obvious. But it's great to see larger software companies, like Corel, developing apps for the device.


Take Apart a Human Skull

Another great education app — this one focused on the human head — illustrates how Leap Motion can fill in the gaps in medical education. Shortages of human cadavers are common in medical schools all over the world, and the free app Cyber Science Motion Skull is designed to stand in as a replacement. With it, students can explore, dissect, and reassemble a skull from the cortex to the skin.

What are we missing? Tell us in the comments.