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A Leap in the dark?

Every once in a while something new comes along that is a real game changer, something that is really different.

I've been around long enough to see a few of them tablet computers, smartphones, GPS and I think that the Leap Motion (www.leapmotion.com) is the next in line to be one of those revolutionary bits of kit. 

The company has been developing their revolutionary controller since 2010 , with it formally announced in May 2012. Thats when I first saw it being offered for pre-order. I'm not usually one to act on impulse but seeing what the small USB device was capable of I signed up immediately. Shipping dates slipped from Dec 2012 to July 2013 but true to their word they began shipping on 19th July.

Mine arrived courtesy of FedEx and I couldn't wait to try it out. I managed to contain myself long enough to take a few pictures you see here.



The device is well packaged and is very reminiscent of Apple products both in its look as well as build quality. There is a distinct lack of unnecessary packaging (a very good point in my opinion) and all the necessary cables are supplied , as an aside the USB cable is at least 1.8m (5ft in old money) long , such a change from some companies who skimp when supplying cables.

Having fired up my laptop I logged on to the web page thoughtfully written on the removable label on the controller. The positive experience continued with the clear instructions on the website and the software was downloaded and installed while I watched the introductory video. The very useful training program then launched to handhold me through a short series of exercises in using the LeapMotion , I would recommend that you work through the exercises as they are well produced and get you familiar with what is initially a strange concept, waving your hands around (although that is how most engineers communicate !)  

I've tried to avoid any reference to Minority Report (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/) in this review so far but I just can't help drawing parallels with it as this is exactly what you are doing. 

The app store, called Air Space (airspace.leapmotion.com) is also well designed ( my son who is a professional web designer was very impressed ) the apps are easy to find and there are plenty of free apps for Mac and PC.

I plan to shoot some video of the controller in action and also look at it in a little more depth in my next blog. I'm hoping to be able to use it with my CAD system so I'll update you on my progress with that.

I hope you enjoy my blogs feel free to comment either below or via Twitter @peterjfrancis

Mechanical & Thermal Consultant, CFD & FEA , mechanical design, electronics hacker , IoT hacker, pilot - full size and RC , motorcyclist

29 Jul 2013, 18:19