Leap Motion Review: Taking control into your own hands (kind of)

By on August 21, 2013, 3:36 AM

While the venerable computer mouse pre-dates many of its users, the simplistic two-dimensional pointing device still remains the de facto method for translating input from users to computers. In the decades following the mouse, joysticks, foot pedals, trackpads, gyroscopic input devices, trackballs, styluses and other unique peripherals have positioned themselves as possible alternatives.

The Leap Motion controller is another such attempt and an interesting one at that. The company touts the device as a new paradigm in human input devices, allowing users to wave, swipe and poke their way through a digital world otherwise meant for keyboards, mice and touchscreens. The miniscule gadget barely measures larger than a USB flash drive, however inside the Leap you'll find two cameras and three infrared LEDs capable of tracking hand and finger movements in all three spatial dimensions. Making use of motion-sensing technology to interact with your computer is at least refreshing, if not magical.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 22

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Guest said:

But... Can you use it to play Crysis?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Crysis must be the meaning of life for those who keep posting the question.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

OK, maybe not Crysis then - but can you use it to play games like BioShock, Civ V, Saints Row, Just Cause, Need for Speed, and - well, you get the picture.

Or can you only use it for "apps" you first need to purchase in their AppStore?

Lurker101 said:

This isn't going to replace the mouse. It suffers from the same limitation as other motion controls, whether you're talking about the Wii, the Kinect or Sonys Wii clone with a shiny big bell end. I think they call it the Move. There's a lack of physical feedback. An issue that mice, joypads/sticks, driving wheels, et. al. don't suffer from. Unless physical feedback is part of the process, the input device is doomed to fail from the outset.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is an awesome new gadget. Too bad it isnt as good as I thought. It is a first gen device though, so it has to be polished.

Guest said:

I hate mine. Its in a drawer. It was a waste of my money.

Guest said:

That's a bummer. A friend of mine also took the dive and bought one, and he also said it's a piece of junk and barely works. Chalk it up as an $80 mistake.

Guest said:

Just like touchscreens, mostly good for games.

Guest said:

The problem is it has a very narrow window of use and that's what goofs it up when you move around too much.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I had it, then returned it, primarily for these reasons:

1. Only installs on C:\ -Like with many Apple products you get no choice...

but more importantly, I have a SSD, I don't want to waste space putting this type of program here.

2. Even worst and related to the 1st problem... Yes, you can go to registry and change default install for Leap program (what a hassle...it's 2013!). But even with this change, all "apps" are installed on C:\.

Work around?, sure mklink command ...but as stated this is 2013! Programming 101...to much silly install behavior and work arounds to get this going as user choice. Returned, will wait for improvements. Also, I think this information should be included in reviews of products like this as it would have led me to not waste my time buying until this is addressed.

Guest said:

For productivity (of a sort; I guess it's more of a leisure activity) try out DexType - it's a free extension for Chrome. I use it to surf the web; it actually allows me to use my LEAP in a useful way.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I hate that there are so many people unhappy with this device - I was really hoping it would be a winner. It's also good to see that a guest has posted actual useful information about this device. Stuff like that always gets left out of reviews and then pokes at my OCD when I get one at home.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I had very high hopes for the product, ready to order on its first day. Glad I didn't, as reviews started coming in the consensus was it's a complete piece of junk, $80 that's 100% wasted. But I got over it now. Till a better day, the next generation perhaps.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

FYI - there's a musical instrument with zero physical feedback and it works perfectly well. Theremin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theremin

But, whole-wrist movements will kill all productivity (and lead to health problems) if this was used in the office.

Guest said:

I pre-ordered one several months ago and was looking forward to it. Within two days of its arrival I made up my mind to return it. Out of the box it won't do anything useful. If they had a basic mouse driver available without having to register for an apps store it would have helped. All of the data that they want to track about the use of the device was also disturbing. In the end, the best thing about it was the 30 day return policy.

Guest said:

OK, so we know that is not good for games like Crysis and other games from that caliber. But I'm interested can it be used in other every day applications except the ones on their store? Ex. Can I use it to scroll (vertical, horizontal) on the browser, excel, word, pdf files, image galleries and stuffs like that?

Kev Brown said:

The forum at leapmotion (https://forums.leapmotion.com/) has been hacked and unavailable for at least the past 3 days. I made 2 posts on the leapmotion Facebook page asking why it's taking so long to fix the forum. Both posts disappeared within a few hours...

If a technology company allows its forum to be hacked, then does not take the time or effort to fix it, then you have to wonder about the commitment and competence of its developers.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

It's not that simple Kev - keep in mind that Leapmotion doesn't make their forum software. It might be a vulnerability with the software they use and of course they'll be partially dependent on that company's patching or correction of the software. At the same time, a move to different forum software might be difficult because they'd want to carry over as much content as possible and that's not always a simple process. Might need to cut them a bit of slack until more details come out about the intrusion.

Kev Brown said:

Might need to cut them a bit of slack until more details come out about the intrusion.

If I ran a tech company and my forum was down or 3 days, heads would be rolling. In case you work for Leap, please tell management to change the message "Sorry, we're busy making things better" when you get on the forum. Because when you google "LeapMotion forums", you see plainly "Hacked by Frozen Heart / You are in our shadow so you're safe"!

1 person liked this | LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Well at the very least they should get that crap down. You don't want that to be what people see. If I were you I'd be more worried that my u/p was not compromised.

Wait - I looked and again you're talking about something outside of their control. That's cached on the google side and until it's crawled again it will say that. The actual site doesn't have that "hacked" text anymore.

tonyvstech tonyvstech said:

What really got me was how misleading Leap's intro video was for the Motion Controller. When I saw it, I had to have it, but I'm pretty disappointed that the real life experience is jittery, twitchy, confusing and frustrating. I want it to work, but it's just a proof of concept right now. The video performance is VERY different to actual performance

Guest said:

I think it would be great when used with 3D glasses...

3d control in 3d space

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