By now, everyone is familiar with the scenes from Minority Report, where Tom Cruise uses hand gestures to wade his way through a ton of computer reports and video feeds, which seems to hang in the air, like magic. And although we’re a few years (or decades) away from being able to project images in mid air, gesture controls have been a reality since Microsoft Kinect gave gamers the experience of becoming their own controller. And many have hacked it for other real-world applications. But Leap Motion may be the first interface that not only gets rid of your mouse and keyboard permanently, but have real world cinematic applications as well.
Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements. – LeapMotion.com
Leap Motion is about half the size of an iPhone and it’s completely wireless. I know what you’re saying … James, what can Leap Motion do that the Kinect can’t? Well, it can interface with a Mac, PC, and even Linux boxes without the need of hacking and will work with just about any software without a buggy, delicate interface (although Microsoft has plans to market the Kinect to PC users with Windows 8). That means it can replace the mouse and the keyboard, completely. And it claims to be about 200 times more sensitive than any other gesture controlled interface. And it also works in three dimensions. Live Motion can operate in four-cubic-foot virtual workspace and tracks all ten fingers to within 1/100 of a millimeter of themselves. WOW, that’s mightily sensitive. That means that it can work on 3D models, 3D video editing, CAD, just about anything that can be done in 3D space.
The implications of a gesture controlled wireless interface are amazing. Editors can edit without having to sit down, freeing them from a workstation. Now, the workstation can be an entire room. CGI can also be done in this fashion, meaning that effects masters can project their image on a wall and use the gesture controlled interface to mold their subject in a way a modeller fashions clay. And then there’s the potential for lowering the cost of motion control, at least for independent features.
Now I don’t think that this will change the way that mainstream studio Hollywood does what it does, but it’s certainly going to add to the tools in the quiver of independent filmmakers who are seeking to up the quality of their product, and make it all the more efficient to deliver it. And it can do it without the annoying and painful issues that come with carpel tunnel syndrome.
Course, you probably won’t see a writer use it to fashion a screen play, but he could use it to move his note cards around in 3D space until he gets the story beats just the way he wants them. And research will become almost instinctual as we move around the windows open around us.
Live Motion is available for Pre-order at a price of $69.99 … that’s right. Under $70! That makes it just another wireless interface, but it’s so much more. Unfortunately, though, the folks over at LEAP are mum as to when the device will ship. That may give people pause, but they do assure that the credit card won’t be charged until the device ships.
Frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. If this is legit, that is.