New Leap gesture-controller makes Kinect for Windows seem bulky, expensive

Must have been a tough day for Microsoft's Kinect department yesterday. They released Kinect SDK and Runtime version 1.5 which adds some new features like Face Tracked and Seated Skeletal Tracking, both of which sound like they'll make Kinect For Windows a lot more practical for end users.

So why was it a tough day? Because yesterday was also the day that Leap Motion introduced Leap, a gesture-motion device that should compete pretty much directly with Kinect For Windows (and which also works with Macs):

Leap, which is available for pre-order now though won't ship until December, is said to be over 100 times more accurate than Microsoft Kinect, and costs $70 as compared to Kinect for Windows's $250 retail price (the Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360 sells for considerably less; about $140 though its MSRP is $200). It's also significantly smaller; about the size of USB thumb-drive.

To be fair, Kinect does more than Leap; Kinect includes a microphone for voice commands and as of 1.5 can apparently do face-tracking as well. But Leap, at least from what I've gleaned from the above video and a somewhat more in-depth post at Financial Times seems far less intrusive and much more mobile (for laptop users).

Granted a demo video of a prototype can be very misleading, but I can see myself using Leap to control my computer by pointing my fingers, whereas waving my hands around in front of Kinect just seems like something of a gimmick. And for $70 even if I don't use it every day it'd be neat to have around. Never underestimate that sales potential of "neat."

What do you think? Am I being taken in by a flashy video or does Leap look like something that has potention? As always, please leave a comment!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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