Video: Leap Motion's gesture-controlled interface in action

In the beginning, there was the keyboard. Then came the mouse. A little after that, touchscreens.

And now, in order to manipulate on-screen objects, you can just throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care.

Leap Motion's gesture-controlled interface was on display at CE Week 2012 in New York City, and it was a mesmerizing sight to behold. The $70 Leap package includes a pack-of-gum-sized motion sensor that you place in front of your monitor, as well as software you'll need to install on a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Mac OS X machine. Once the system is set up, Leap Motion says a computer will recognize it as a Mac or Windows PC would a mouse or another peripheral input device.

The company claims that its touch-free interface is 200 times more accurate than the similar Kinect motion-control system from Microsoft. Although I had no way of verifying that claim, the system did appear to be amazingly sensitive to very slight finger movements, as you'll see in the Fruit Ninja portion of the video below.

The touch-free system supports manipulating on-screen objects using intuitive real-world hand gestures: You can grab on-screen objects by making a grabbing motion with your fist, push objects into the background by pushing toward the screen, and so on.

This is the sort of thing you need to see to believe, so I'll just get out of the way and put a video up. Here's a demo of the Leap Motion system by Leap Motion CTO David Holz, in which he manipulates a 3D model, navigates a computer-generated mountain landscape, and plays a quick game of Fruit Ninja. (Note that the background noise makes it nigh on impossible to hear Holz, so pay attention to the video.)

The sensor being used in the demo is a prototype model; you can preorder the system now on Leap Motion's site. When it ships around the end of the year (Leap Motion suggests a December 2012/January 2013 timeframe), the sensor will be the smaller version seen at the 1:20 mark in the video.

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