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Carrying on the theme of hardware dominating SXSW, Leap Motion took to the stage in Austin to show their device that brings the technology only seen in Minority Report into the real world.

Leap Motion’s first product, the Leap Motion Controller, can track the movement of both hands and all 10 fingers up to 1/100th millimeter at up to 290 frames per second. All that from a thin card only three inches long next to your computer that allows you to create a virtual and interactive world in front of your screen.

Releasing something up to 200 times more sensitive than existing motion-control technology for $80 in May is going to change the way we interact with the world around us. How could it not? 

But will developers and brands be ready for it?

Imagine you can do almost anything without touching anything? From practical applications like browsing the web or drawing and painting with a fingertip all the way to sculpting a virtual lump of clay in real time and the same speed as actual clay, will change the way we interact with everything. Leap started with the idea of a holo-desk. But as they began to address the issues, they steered away into motion sensor technology, as that was the real answer to the problem.

Over 50,000 developers have applied to be part of testing program, but currently only 12,000 developers have beta leap technology (for free). Their feedback is helping to develop the product and helped solve their issues with UI. Though they are focused on PC for now, and focused on consumer, not commercial use, leap will eventually be able to control any computer or tablet.

What's exciting is the potential use of this device

We could interact with billboards, office wall screens, table tops, fridges, TVs, stereos…anything computer technology could be affected by this. It will change how we interact with content and will break apart our "screened" experience. Customers are the focus now but mechanics, surgeons, etc could one day utilize Leap. But consumers are the focus now.

Leap's edge is in its intuitive focus. Most of their competitors are focused on gestures - controlling a computer with what amounts to sign language. Leap is 100% focused on letting users "reach into" their computers, pick up & move objects in whatever way is natural and intuitive, not through pre-set gestures. The technology bears the responsibility to understand, not the other way around.

The next step: exponential increase of technology to meet this new software. This is as good as it gets with modern technology.

How do you think this will affect consumers and what are the wider implications? I've already bought mine. At $80, I want to be part of the future even though, as a friend said, in five years, this thing will look rudimentary to the point of absurdity, in comparison to the latest iteration.

Heather Taylor

Published 12 March, 2013 by Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor is the Editorial Director for Econsultancy US. You can follow her on Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

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