LeapMotion is a USB device now available for pre-order that “creates a 3D interaction space of 8 cubic feet to precisely interact with and control software on your laptop or desktop computer.” According to the website

The Leap senses your individual hand and finger movements independently, as well as items like a pen. In fact, it’s 200x more sensitive than existing touch-free products and technologies. It’s the difference between sensing an arm swiping through the air and being able to create a precise digital signature with a fingertip or pen.

The video embedded above shows it off pretty nicely. The device itself is about the size of the power brick that comes with the Mac Minis or the AppleTV (or used to). It’s, not coincidentally, similarly designed, so it’s not going to look like some ugly chunk of plastic and LEDs on your desk. This is, I think, not to be underestimated if you are asking people to invest in a new kind of interface that will, indeed, sit on their desk to be stared at all day. People are pretty pernickety about what goes on their desk.

When I say invest in, I’m really talking about time. The device itself is pretty cheap at $69.99. I can see this being a bonanza for people making interactive installations and performative interfaces (which is why I came across it, thanks to Joel Gethin Lewis).

It looks like LeapMotion is responsive and accurate, but there is still the question of holding your hands in front of you all day. With a desktop version, I foresee an elbows-resting-on-the-table-while-wiggling-the-hands mode of usage. Perhaps it’s time to invest in an elbow rest Kickstarter project.

G-Speak – Back to VR Gloves Again?

g-speak overview from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

It’s the gloves again.

Part of me wants to believe G-Speak is really is a fantastic “spatial operating environment”. The mouse and keyboard are awkward, clunky and out-dated with plenty of problems and it’s time for a change. G-Speak is about freeing ourselves from those shackles, about working in space across multiple screens.

I wanted to scream when I saw the tired reference to Minority Report, but it turns out that one of the team, John Underkoffler, was the science advisor on Minority Report, so they can get away with it given they he ripped off his own ideas for the film.

The video and some of the interaction looks great.

Except for the gloves.

It’s the gloves (and the headset) that made VR so lame. That and being tethered to a machine, so at least that part is no more.

Yet regardless of how much of a paradigm-shifting breakthrough g-speak is, I can’t see people donning the dorky gloves every time they want to work. I can’t see many people devoting that much space to one person’s screens either and I can’t see many people having the stamina to stand with their arms out-streched and wave them about all day. A two-hour yoga class is hard enough.


Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a go and experience it for myself. I’m sure there is a whole of interesting interaction going on there.

I really want to be wrong about this. I really want to know that it’s not just a technical triumph from a group of talented tech guys whose blog has the most heinous URLs. I really do.

I just don’t want to have to smell the gloves.

(Via Bren).

Code Beneath the Surface

This developer from Infusion is showing off some of his modifications to Microsoft’s Surface at I Live To Code. The table has several cameras underneath instead of just one, so that he can affect the ripples and other interactions on the surface without touching it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the demo is the “new gesture” for tilting where he places the palm of his hand on one side of the screen and uses his forefinger and thumb to change the tilt angle. I’ve been trying to think what this is the equivalent too and it feels a bit like adjusting anything on a pedestal or tripod where you have to hold one part still to move the other. I’m not convinced it’s a gesture that is going to catch on because the palm-down hand blocks half the screen.

(Regarding the “Sponsored by Microsoft” link – this is experiment for Playpen too. It’s a sponsored clip by Unruly Media who have a pretty good ethics code. They encourage honest opinions and don’t try to be stealth marketers. I’m not entirely sure I want to have a great deal of sponsorship on Playpen, but the clip interested me anyway, so we’ll see. If you absolutely don’t want to give me an 18 cent kickback, you can watch it on YouTube)