One of the hacks at Disrupt NY’s Hackathon this year employed hardware startup Leap Motion’s new 3D gesture controller, which unfortunately just ran into a delay. Leap Motion’s issues aside, this project, the combined effort of Chao Huang, Cedrich Pinson and Jorge Martinez, brings a Facebook Home-style experience to the desktop.
With “Leap in Time,” Leap Motion is used to navigate through a Facebook timeline via hand gestures that are intended to be as natural and intuitive as possible. You swipe left and right to go through photos and posts, and there’s inertia built-in to make it feel even more immersive. Then there’s a motion to pause and focus on a particular piece of content, with a palm outward gesture, and you can simply make a thumbs up to like a post.
Working with the Leap Motion was fairly simple, the team said, but does seem to experience difficulty with some environment issues like changing lighting conditions. It’s also crucial to maker sure that the Leap Motion app you’re building is cued to pay attention to certain things at certain times and to ignore specific motions in different settings. You have to cue the app to not pay attention to sideways hand waving when you want it to be able to recognize the thumbs up, for instance.
The hack was surprisingly smooth given that it was built in fewer than 24 hours, and Huang said there’s plenty more they could do given more time, but they wanted to focus on what they considered the core Facebook experience. The project is also reminiscent of a recent concept design making the rounds of a Facebook Home app for Windows 8.
Leap in Time is a simple enough implementation of Leap Motion, but it does act as a pretty solid example of how gesture control might actually work well for navigating apps and software that we use every day. I know that Leap Motion is eager to get as much software as possible into Airspace, the app store for the controller, but this team said they weren’t sure whether they’d actually pursue this any further.