Leap Motion: Gesture tech's come-hither allure

In less than two months, developers have submitted more than 26,000 requests to use the gesture control technology to drive cars, fly planes, and even interpret sign language in real time.

With the Leap, from Leap Motion, developers will be able to create apps that can translate the movement of users hands -- and even their fingers -- onto the screen. Leap Motion

Developers eager to be among the first to create applications for Leap Motion's new gesture control system think it could be used to auto-translate sign language.

That was among the details the company released this morning about the initial round of requests from developers to design tools that work with the Leap -- technology that lets users control what's on their computers with hundredth of a millimeter accuracy with nothing more than their fingers or their hands.

The San Francisco company said that in the two months since pulling back the wraps on the Leap, more than 26,000 people asked for software developer kits, including 15,000 in the first week alone. Those developers come from 143 countries, and include 1,500 from university researchers or students.

When Leap Motion first unveiled its technology, it said that it saw the Leap as being ideal for upending industries like gaming, surgery, architecture, engineering, design, and more. But among the most interesting potential applications suggested by the developers asking for SDKs were ideas for using the technology to automatically translate sign language, the company said.

Developers also proposed using it to drive cars or fly planes, and support physical rehabilitation and special needs. And more than 400 people presented ideas for using the Leap in computer-aided design software -- the same computing challenge that led Leap co-founder and CTO David Holz to begin creating the technology four years ago.

Leap Motion said that 14 percent of developers proposed gaming-related applications, with 12 percent wanting to use Leap in conjunction with music and video, 11 percent seeing it as ideal for art and design, 8 percent for science and medicine, and 6 percent for robotics. At launch, the company said it will build an Apple-style app store, and more than 90 percent of those asking for SDKs want to sell their work through such a store.

At launch, Holz and co-founder and CEO Michael Buckwald told CNET they intended to identify a small initial group of developers whose highly-compelling projects they could highlight when the Leap becomes available and the app store opens. But the company has not yet revealed any details about who those developers will be, or what they want to do with the Leap, which is expected to cost $70 and begin shipping early next year.

Earlier this month, the company announced it had brought on as president and COO Andy Miller , a former partner at the venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners and former Apple vice president of mobile advertising. Miller had spearheaded Highland's $12.75 million first-round investment in Leap Motion.

 

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