Yesterday I visited the Leap office in San Francisco and got to meet the team there. I had a good time, got to see some new cool stuff that isn’t public yet, and have a chat about the company and the team. A small startup that started with just two people has grown immensely and gotten venture capital to go for their dreams. Today Google is on board by integrating Leap Motion into Google Earth, Asus and HP are integrating the device into lap tops and everybody is talking about the tiny device that enables touch less interaction.
And there are many questions.
Since I’ve blogged and done some sessions on Leap Motion – last one was in UK while I was doing the UK user group tour I get a lot of emails and questions, and I’ve also noticed a few on in social media. Here is a list with 16 questions that I’ve done my very best to answer, don’t hesitate to email if you have questions. The questions are both consumer and developer questions. Keep in mind that I’m not a spokesperson for Leap, just a big fan 🙂
1. Can you track for example a 1mm drillbit?
Yes you can, the Leap tracks tools and will give you measurements on the tool. The drillbit might be reflective and that might cause a problem, but in general it is not a problem to track tools and check for a certain size.
2. Can I track two hands, one tool and fingers on the other?
Yes you can
3. Will the CPU usage go down?
Yes, CPU usage has already improved in the latest versions and will continue to do so. Make sure you update the hardware and get the latest build and read the newsletters + forum.
4. Why does the prices for apps range from 99 cents to 500 USD? Who will pay for that?
The prices aren’t set by Leap Motion, the prices are set by the developer or company submitting an app to the store. The 500USD is meant as a guidance on an upper limit, and while some applications such as training simulators and CAD apps might carry a heavier price tag to reflect the amount of work put into those apps the price is whatever they (dev/company/client) decide on. The 99cents is set as a minimum and it is common on all platform stores (although minimum varies).
5. Could I do lipreading with the Leap Motion?
Not with the current logic which is made to read and track fingers and tools.
6. Does the Leap Motion use sensors?
Not really, it takes frames (images) using Infrared light and camera technique to improve what the device actually can see. Sensors would drive the price up, make the device slightly bigger while not necessarily providing any advantage in regards to what it does right now.
Really well, it is actually the most popular one right now.
8. Is the release date still 22nd of July?
Yes it is. The date was pushed back a little bit to polish the device a bit more as well as the logic for the OS integration. You only have one ‘first launch’ and will all the excitement it could seriously hurt the company if a sub-optimal device was shipped. Delayed delivery dates are normal but of course not popular. Some cancelled their preorders but most have been understanding.
9. Will the price still be 79 USD?
That is the set price, but depending on where you live there might be some added taxes which are not set by Leap Motion. There is also shipping fee etc. as always.
10. How well does the Leap work under poor light conditions and bright light?
I’ve personally tried using the device in the dark with just the light from the monitor and had no problems, and the device work even when I was out on the balcony in bright daylight. The device will let you know if there are suboptimal light conditions.
11. I want to buy a bunch of devices and sell them, what are the rules for that?
As far as I know you are not allowed to sell or trade a developer device at all. As for consumer devices you would have to contact Leap and find out what the rules are for reselling.
12.What does the Leap API in the SDK give me and what is the relation with the firmware for the device?
The firmware is the device specific logic for the hardware it has. You will be prompted to upgrade the firmware now and then, and usually you want to make sure that you carefully follow the instructions to not break the device. The API is a set of libraries that provide you the filtrated data from the device. The device takes images/frames, and there is some logic that filters out anything else apart from the hands and tools and the API then collects the information and makes it accessible to us as developers in the form of objects with methods and properties. You will get data on the frames, and the frame object will have hands and fingers properties, location and orientation, screen information, velocity, pitch, roll and more. There are also some predefined rudimentary gestures that you have to enable to read.
13.Does the Leap Motion work on atom devices? Does it work on Windows Phone?
I gave this a go at BUILD after we got our atom device, and it works. The CPU load was a bit heavy, but I had not updated the firmware on the device to the latest update so I’m confident that it would work better once I do. In short, yes it works on atom devices. As for Windows Phone, I haven’t tried but I somewhat doubt that it would work.
14. Can I have multiple Leap Motion devices on one computer, or use multiple screens with one?
Yes and yes, combine however you want. As for using Kinect and Leap Motion at the same time, I believe that shouldn’t be a problem, but I haven’t tried that.
15. Why are there only a handful of rudimentary gestures defined?
The way I’ve understood it the intent behind Leap Motion is not to create a gesture based way of interaction where the user has to memorize gestures. Gestures aren’t universal and the simpler the navigation and interaction model the better fo the user. Defining your own gestures is not a problem, but will require a fair bit of work. Keep in mind that not all gestures make sense, and keep it as simple as possible.
16. Isn’t Kinect better? Can’t Kinect replace Leap Motion? What about Smart Interaction TV gesture navigation (Samsung)?
Kinect and Leap Motion work differently and are made for different things. The Leap Motion captures frames and gives us pointables, the power is in the logic not the hardware. This makes the device very affordable and small while it is still extremely accurate. Those things make it easier to integrate the technology in computers, while it would be harder with Kinect. Right now Kinect is unable to differentiate fingers (although the claim is that it can actually detect facial expressions in XBox one), so it is limited to large gestures. Kinect does have something the Leap Motion doesn’t have, and that is some kick ass sensors. But again, they serve different purposes.
The Interaction Smart TV’s that provide gesture recognition aren’t really that smart. While it can detect some basic gestures, it does not capture detailed data like Leap Motion and Kinect does. With heavy price tag the TV currently has reviews haven’t been kind as the gesture interaction isn’t very polished.