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CNET First Look
Leap Motion turns your computer into a motion-controlled future machineThe little, affordable Leap Motion is like a scaled-down, desktop Kinect with far more accuracy. But it's limited by the apps that work with it.
Hey, I'm Scott Stein. And I am playing a game on Windows 8 PC hands-free with Leap Motion. This actually works with Windows 8, Windows 7 and with Macs. What is it? Well, I'll explain. It's this. This little puck is Leap Motion. It's $80, and it allows kinect-like connectivity for computer. Now, it doesn't have to work with its own app eco-system, which is one of the Leap Motion's drawbacks and catches, although then, app eco-system is pretty big at launch over 70 apps to start. So it's simply, you plug it in via USB, you put it down. You download the starting software called Airspace and there's an associated Airspace store that holds all of the apps. Now, the makers of Leap Motion are open to the idea of having applications be outside of the store maybe a certain applications actually like Google Earth right now has the ability to work with Leap Motion via software update that could be quietly posted about or bumped up. The fine tuning is the important though. The makers of Leap Motion and Vision-- people maybe using this for robotics surgery or for fighter planes that may sound a little bit scary. But the idea is that this is really much more fined tune than a kinect is and you can see here, my hand hovering over the space and it notices each one of my little joints and notices little tiny wiggles and movements as I move my hand. So it's kinda cool. That seems like this would be great for games. And there already are a couple of games. This one is Dropchord by Double Fine. And it's a music-based rhythm game that allows you to move these both fingers around the circle and collect things and time things for points. It's a pretty fun demo and it's a real game too. So it's not just a demo of technology. And this is one of the launch games that's currently available. And if you fancy doing a little bit of painting and art, you can with things like Corel, Painter, Freestyle beta and Air paint to your heart's content. You know, my arm is getting tired. I'm feeling really tired doing this over a period of time. It's kinda like a workout because you got whole hands in this space up here. It's not really a lower zone, it's an upper zone. So if you're the type of person who has a standing desk that you said. But if you're a type of person who sits down on a desk which is most of us, then you might find over a long period of time. This is probably not the most comfortable productivity tool in the entire world. Now, there is an app called Touchless that allows you to use Leap Motion with Windows 8 or Windows 7 or Mac and actually navigate the operating system so you can go outside of the app universe. That is kind of a weird mixed bag. Now, you can see here, my fingers actually becoming the cursor and I'm navigating around and I just excellently launched a game. That goes that you have to push in to click and that's the part that's a little unintuitive here and the gestures are made to work with your fingers and, you know what? You're probably just gonna reach up and touch the screen or use a track pad. And guess what? It connects to your Mac as well as I said so you can connect it to your MacBook Air or iMac or Mac of choice and it works with OS 10.7 and later. Now, certain apps work with just Mac or just Windows. But a lot of them are meant to work with both Mac and Windows. So that's Leap Motion in a nutshell. Connect on your desk in a small scale space. You probably don't need it but if you start to imagine and using this. This is something like Oculus Rift or you wanted to manipulate molecules or you wanna see where gestural computing might go next and don't wanna spend all that much to get into it. For $80, the experiment is yours now and it's an intriguing one. And there's certainly to be a lot more apps to get into space, and who knows, you might even have a computer with this technology build in some time soon. I'm Scott Stein and that's a look at Leap Motion available now.