Anyone who's tried to manipulate 3D objects on their laptop knows how unintuitive existing controls can be. You're limited to a 2D interface and a 2D display, which makes interactions cumbersome. Leap Motion's 3D controller hopes to change all that.
The controller itself is a tiny USB device that uses standard camera sensors and infrared LEDs to track the motion of up to 10 fingers in the space above your keyboard. Technology like this isn't new, but what makes Leap Motion's 3D controller noteworthy is how far it pushes the concept.
The device can track all 10 fingers up to 1/100th of a millimeter, and its 150° field of view gives you an area of about 8 ft³ to play around in. We saw two demonstrations at Leap Motion's booth that showed off the controller—both were apps specially designed for the device, available in their app store.
The first was a simple game by Double Fine Productions, Dropchord, a rhythm game controlled by two fingers. The controller reads input at 200 frames per second, so there wasn't any noticeable latency between hand movement and movement onscreen.
The second demo was an educational program, Cyber Science 3D Motion. In the demo, we were able to rotate a skull around with the same hand gesture we'd use if we were holding it in real life. We also dissected the skull with similarly intuitive gestures.
The Leap Motion 3D controller is available now for Mac and PC and retails for $79.99.