Leap Motion, the company behind the desk-mounted sensor that lets you control your computer like Tony Stark in the “Iron Man” films, has today released a major update to its software development kit that lets those making apps for the device track the location of individual fingers and joints in your hands.
According to Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald, the software was previously in a closed beta available to several thousand developers who had been chosen at random and based on activity on the company’s developer forums. Today, the update is available to all of the approximately 100,000 developers signed up for Leap Motion’s developer program.
In a demo at Leap Motion’s office yesterday, I got to play with apps built for the first version of the tracking software before trying out a few apps the company had put together using the newest version of the software.
The results are like night and day. While moving your hand in three dimensions to play a glorified game of Breakout is pretty neat — kind of like the first time you played Wii Sports — having a one-to-one representation of your hand in front of you touching objects with weight and volume felt more engaging than any motion sensing peripheral I’ve tried before.
In a blog post put up this morning, Buckwald describes why the mathematical guesswork that enables the Leap Motion’s cameras to “know” where all your fingers are at any given time is important:
“This means taking things like sculpting a lump of clay, snapping together building blocks, or learning to play an instrument – the types of actions 99% of people just won’t or can’t do on a computer with traditional input devices – and making them possible and instantly accessible to anyone who knows how to do them with their physical hands in the real world.”
The video below gives a glimpse at apps built using the new tracking software: