This Tiny USB Dongle For Your Mac Makes The Kinect Look Like A Drunk, Stumbling Uncle

This Tiny USB Dongle For Your Mac Makes The Kinect Look Like A Drunk, Stumbling Uncle

Imagine that you could buy a tiny USB-powered box that detected your motion like Microsoft’s Kinect, only instead of watching you jump around a room, it watched your hands and fingers. Imagine that the box was sensitive enough to track the tip of a pencil tracing out letters in a 1cm square of space, and to turn that into accurate handwriting on the screen.

Amazingly, that box is available for preorder right now. It’s called the Leap, and it works with your Mac.

The Leap Motion team behind the box (and of course its clever software backend) claim that the Leap is “200 times more accurate” than any rival and “can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.”

It sounds impressive, and the video certainly backs this up. But the information is vague, and even the FAQ on the Leap Motion site only offers fuzzy explanations.

However, Redditor Clubdirthill suggests that it looks like a time-of-flight camera, a technology that can image a 3-D space by measuring the time it takes light to arrive from each point of the image. According to Wikipedia, these cameras have a resolution of 1cm, which seems to be much lower than that shown in the demo. This could be an evolution on that technology, though, and might avoid patents owned on it, too.

UPDATE: Leap Motion’s Eliotte weighs in on the tech “the camera is not a time-of-flight camera. The device is actually using camera sensors that are basic off-the-shelf hardware found in smartphones and webcams today. The 3D magic comes in the software –the mathematical analysis of the light bouncing off images.” Thanks, Eliotte!

If it works as well as promised, this $70 box could be quite revolutionary. Sure, you can use it to play Angry Birds with a pair of chopsticks, but it could also deliver iOS-accurate touch control to desktop machines, without the expense of a touch screen (or even a new computer). I would use it for plain old work, and avoid RSI-inducing trackpads and mice altogether.

As I said, preorders can be made now, but no shipping date is given. Hopefully this will turn out to be more than just bunk.

  • kobe_3002

    This has Iron Man written all over it. Seriously, this was only possible in movies a few years back…this is amazing

  • xMoonDevilx

    Kinect gone the way of the Wii…behind the times already. If this thing works like its supposed to….I see this on the Apple TV coming out BIG time. This plus Siri….man, all that’s left is the Holodeck.

  • Jim Ritzheimer

    Where can I pre-order one? The link is broken…

  • seaaalex

    A slick video and a function product are two different things  …. lets see if  this thing ever materializes. 

  • William Myers

    To the author: Reading the FAQs gives an idea of the release timeframe…

    How do I pre-order a LEAP?

    We have a limited number available for our first shipment this winter. Early birds catch the worm – so click here to order. We won’t charge you until the product is ready to ship.

  • MossTal

    I know I’m a tad late & that this has been all over the internets but did anyone actually look at their FAQ?

    More specifically did anyone look at the last project attributed to “Michael Buckwald is the CEO and co-founder. Prior to founding Leap Motion, Michael was the CEO of Zazuba.com.”

    If so then he’s made something of a leap by being involved in this project & I quote from the second article on the front page Zazuba as posted on by administrator:

    “In present day world, laptops certainly are a highly wanted commodity
    since everyone desires to own a single. People which owned any laptop
    want it for the convenience reason and knowing it really is at palm.
    When considering buying a laptop, price is probably the main locations
    people examine….”

    Have a read before you consider sending these guys any $. At best it looks like their article writing code is dodgy. At worst the Whois records for the domain suggests it’s a Java (as in the island) based scam.

    That said I’d sure like to be wrong cos $70 seems like steal!!

  • AKahney

    I have to agree with seaalex!

  • Greg Cooper

    I can’t believe Apple hasn’t bought these guys yet. Maybe late this afternoon. Tomorrow morning at the latest.

  • Jennifer Park

    theyve had this in Korea years ago… or asia in general.  I remmeber long time ago they had this on their tvs and computers where you can use your hands from the couch to pop bubbles and play games.  so its not very new. but its still pretty cool that we can now access it in the states.  i thought we wouldnt get it for at least another couple years… nice.

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Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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