Leap Motion Builds Crazy Awesome Augmented-Reality Computing Interface

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Leap Motion Builds Crazy Awesome Augmented-Reality Computing Interface

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Viewers of TV shows and movies these days may not find this that impressive. After all, we've seen these interfaces all over shows like CSI and movies like Iron Man. But those are just clever graphics effects, not functioning displays.

This is different. During a recent hackathon at Leap Motion, this interface was built using a prototype of their Leap color sensor which does all the gesture recognition and an Oculus Rift developer kit and was built in C++ using OpenGL. According to developer Raffi Bedikian, while "the news feed on the left, chat bubbles in the middle, and widgets on the right are just placeholder art," all of the window textures and interactions are legitimate Win32 calls, so this is actually manipulating the OS.

So is this the future of the PC? Maybe, but it's certainly not quite ready for mass distribution yet, and it wouldn't be a replacement for your mouse and keyboard. Instead, the real possibility lies in using this in coordination with other input devices, and as a redesign of the desktop experience. As Bedekian told Wired, "Let’s say I want to do something like accounting. With one interaction of my accounting bubble floating in space, I could load up a whole suite of relevant things. Maybe Excel would load in the middle, my email and cloud drive stacked on the left, and my useful macros and documentation on the right. Instead of manually maximizing and minimizing individual programs and windows, this would treat them as one unit and remember your favorite spatial arrangements of things. Powerful data visualization and interaction capabilities will have a profound impact on almost every use we’ve come up with for computers."

That's a very short-term view. Combine a new user experience with innovative new input devices, and you can quickly see this technology going far beyond Bedekian's current vision. Pair this with 3D design software, a device that can draw in precise detail while your hands rotate the object, and a 3D printer, and suddenly rapid prototyping has a whole new definition (or 3D printed art for that matter). Or think about taking a trip with the family in your self-driving car where you can quickly switch back and forth between your work view(s), checking in on traffic and your ETA, making a dinner reservation at your destination, playing a game with the family in the car, and checking in on how the kids are making out with their homework.

Now you're talking about a future I can get onboard with ...

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