A San Francisco startup called Leap Motion is showing off a new device it believes will be the future of gesture-based controls. At first glance their system does pretty much the same as Kinect, translating hand movement onto the screen, but the Leap is reportedly 200 times more accurate than existing technology and will set you back just $70 rather than $250 for Microsoft’s add-on for Windows.
The system, which comprises a small USB input device and a sophisticated software platform, creates a "three-dimensional interaction space" of four cubic feet that recognizes a number of gestures. These include things like finger-pinching to zoom in and zoom out, navigating an operating system with the flick of a finger, precision drawing, manipulating complex 3D data visualizations, and even gaming.
Leap Motion didn’t reveal much about the hardware but did say that the breakthrough in resolution comes from the software side. According to CTO David Holz, they were able to resolve "a number of major algorithmic and mathematical problems that had not been solved or were considered unsolvable."
The technology can track the 3D position and orientation of individual fingers as well as thin objects like pencils in real time, with sub-millimeter accuracy. The company claims the Leap is more precise and responsive than a touchscreen or a mouse, and just as reliable as a keyboard.
The San Francisco startup already secured $12.75 million in Series A funding and is hoping to create an ecosystem that supports a large number of third-party applications on both OS X and Windows. Pre-orders are open now and the company says it won’t charge buyers’ cards until the product ships this winter.