The Leap Motion looks interesting. OK, it looks awesome. Sort of… I mean, I’m all for “new” interfaces for computers, but the whole “say goodbye to your mouse and keyboard” bit? I don’t buy it, and I don’t want to buy it. More accurate than a mouse? Again, I’m not convinced. And as for the “more natural” part of it, while it’s true I’ve been using my hands and fingers my entire life, I’ve been using a keyboard for more than 30 years, and a mouse for over 20 years, and at this point, it’s pretty damn natural. Nothing feels “unnatural” to me about using a keyboard and mouse. If something better comes along, I’d be happy to try it. The iPad does a really good job of using a touch interface, and for specific tasks, it’s wonderful, and much better than a keyboard and mouse, though I feel a lot of that has to do with how and where I use an iPad.
I’m not really sure how signing your name or writing in thin air is natural or better/easier that the alternatives. Sure, it looks like it could be fun, and I do see the possibilities for new things, but I made the joke(?) yesterday that what we really need is a method of using computers that requires us to keep our arms in the air for 10 hours a day. I know we should all use standing desks and be on the move, but I also really like sitting at a desk, supporting my arms, and using a keyboard and mouse. For the great majority of what I do with a computer, it works well.
Alright, with my complaining out of the way, I’ll heap on the praise now. I love this thing. The Leap Motion opens up some possibilities. We’ve played with 3D scanning using the Kinect and while it sort of works, it could be better. Hell, if the Leap Motion can do at least as good as the Kinect at 1/3rd the price, I’m sold. (Also, it’s not a Microsoft product, so it earns points there as well!) I can also see using the Leap Motion with Processing as a great physical computing device. Yeah, I’m excited. $70? That’s cheaper than some Logictech mice!
So while I’m not ready to ditch my keyboard and mouse yet, I can see some great possibilities in the Leap Motion. I’m not exactly ready to (pre-)order one yet, as it’s sort of vaporware at this point, and they don’t expect to ship until December 2012 or January 2013. That’s 7 to 8 months out, without any dates slipping. (Dev kits may be out in 1 to 3 months, so there’s a chance we may get a better idea of what it can really do at that point.) The pre-order thing makes it feel like a really long Kickstarter campaign, so I’m taking a “wait and see” approach on this. Things move fast, and who knows, within 6 months a competitor may come along with something better. Still, it’s damn interesting.