Leap motion: its past and its future

By: Yoshua Muliawan

Leap motion is a relatively brand new American tech startup which focuses on producing and developing specialized computer hardware sensors that detects finger and palm motion as input. First developed in 2008, Leap motion has since produced an array of products such as the consumer – marketed leap controller as well as its latest accompanying software, Orion, which is designed for hand tracking in virtual reality.

The company had already received several rounds of investments in  2011 – 2013 following the initial angel investment that formed the company. With the money gathered, the Maths Ph.D cofounder, David Holz worked silently and finally launched its first product, dubbed the The Leap on May 21, 2012. Further iterations of the product have since been made including the latest iteration, named The Leap Controller.

The basic premise of the technology is actually quite simple. Each device is equipped with two sets of cameras as well as three infrared LED’s. The lamps emits light with a wavelength of 850 nanometres, making it invisible to the human eyes. The cameras will then capture the reflected infrared light and produce an image that will be sent to the computer. Once received by the computer, the Leap Motion Service software will process the image and generate a 3D map of the hand, which can be utilised in various apps that take advantage of the sensor.

The leap motion technology unlocks unlimited potential in its usage. For an average consumer like you and me, the leap motion technology allows us to experience more immersive and realistic games. Coupled with a VR headset such as an oculus rift, it can bring the already extremely realistic games to life. This technology can also be used in other fields, predominantly science. Just recently, NASA engineers at GDC control had revealed to the public that they had used the leap motion controller to remotely control a massive one-ton, six-legged ATHLETE rover located at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena. The ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a heavy-life utility vehicle prototype that was designed for future human space exploration to the moon, Mars and even asteroids.

The leap motion technology is still early at its infant stage and there’s still a lot of room for improvements. In the future, with the increased usage of the sensors, we might have whole rooms filled with many of these little sensors, or one big one, to detect our smallest gestures. It might also help us build a real life JARVIS from the movie Iron Man with its stunning motion controlled holograms. Furthermore, this technology might be applicable to the vast field of medical sciences and surgery. Imagine a surgeon being able to perform extremely precise remote operations with this tiny device, half a globe away. There truly is an endless possibility when it comes to the application of this device.

             All in all, the leap motion technology is a relatively new invention that still requires a lot of further development. It has shown us what it can do, as well as what its future might look like. With the speed at which technology is evolving right now, this versatile technology might mature a lot sooner than we can expect.

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