After the wildly impressive reveal video everyone went crazy for Leap – the video’s had three million views in a matter of three or four days. Despite the team being incredibly busy right now, I managed to pin down Leap Motion’s CEO Michael Buckwald for a quick chat about the device, and what it means for gaming.
TSA: So, where on earth did all this this come from?
Michael Buckwald: The Leap device is the culmination of several years of research, and significant mathematical breakthroughs by our co-founder and CTO, David Holz, a former NASA consultant.
TSA: It must have been great to see the sudden rush of media interest.
MB: Yes, we’re excited to finally be talking publicly about this technology we’ve spent so much time creating!
Leap is incredibly accurate, even at high speed. It seems like FPS's might be a key target.
MB: Leap was initially inspired by the desire to model virtual clay as easily as you can shape an actual piece of clay. Molding clay is intuitive, but there was a barrier in the information exchange between a person and their computer – namely the limits of the mouse and keyboard – that made 3-D modeling a complex, technical task.
TSA: So this basically getting around those limitations?
MB: Yes, Leap is the outcome of several years of research devoted to removing that barrier so people can interact with their computers in a natural, intuitive way.
TSA: So where do you envisage the tech beyond 3-D modelling?
MB: Basic computing tasks like navigating an operating system or digitally signing a document, and complex professional uses, such as medical imaging that a surgeon can navigate without taking off his or her gloves.
TSA: The video showed games being controlled with the Leap – is gaming a serious market for the device?
MB: Yes, definitely. While Leap has broad applications across personal and professional computing, we’re excited about the implications for gaming.
TSA: So how you do think it stacks up against Move and Kinect?
MB: Our approach is fundamentally different than that of technologies like Move and Kinect. From the start, we’ve been intent on developing motion control that is sensitive enough to control computers with natural hand and finger movements.
As a result of our completely different approach, and the mathematical breakthroughs that enable our technology, Leap is 200 times more accurate than existing technology, and works for the tasks that make up the vast majority of our interactions with a computer – those that take place in a close range, using hands and fingers.
TSA: Close range? Can the box be placed anywhere?
MB: The Leap hardware is connected by a USB cable, and sits on your desk. There is a simple, one-step calibration process.
Fruit Ninja might seem like an obvious choice, but Leap is hardly limited.
MB: Existing motion control for games has focused on large, full-body movements, which is great for certain types of games, but Leap is the first motion-control technology sensitive enough to handle games like first-person shooters that require fast reflexes.
TSA: Do you have any plans to scale up so that it could track full-body movements?
MB: Right now, we’re focused on bringing motion control to the desktop, and giving people unprecedented ability to control their computers with natural hand and finger movements.
TSA: Finally, then, would you consider licensing the tech to the console manufacturers?
MB: The Leap technology is versatile enough to be embedded in a broad range of technology—anything from a smartphone to a refrigerator—and gaming consoles could certainly be a possibility in the future.
We thank Michael for his time, and wish him and the rest of the company all the best as they enter a market that’s apparently hugely interested in what they’ve come up with. As a core gamer you may not see huge potential yet in this, but it’s an open system, and I’m sure amazing things will come of this very soon.
You can read more about Leap here.