Leap motion controller for PCs on track for early 2013 launch

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Source: Leap Motion

Remember Leap? It's that hands-free motion control PC accessory we first talked about last spring, when we compared it Microsoft's Kinect periperal for the Xbox 360.

Things have been relatively quiet since then but yesterday Leap Motion, the company behind the product, announced that it will be sending out another 10,000 units to interested developers, as well as releasing an updated SDK. The idea is to seed the Leap ecosystem with third party support before commerical launch of the unit, currently scheduled for early 2013 (you can pre-order the Leap now for $69.99).

[12 touch-less computer navigation projects and Kinect component maker to launch compact 3D sensor to fit in smartphones]

Leap Motion doesn't want to be a software company; they're hoping other developers will handle that end of the product; but they did create a demo game called Block 54 that shows how Leap can be used to play games:

That's a nice technical demo but I found this video of a 3rd party mod to allow playing Quake with a Leap more interesting:

So here's the thing. I was pretty excited about Leap last spring but what a difference half a year makes. Kinect isn't quite the media darling it used to be (after I moved last summer I never bothered re-connecting the Kinect sensor to our Xbox 360) and touch screens on PCs seem like an inevitable next step, at least with laptops.

It makes my wrists hurt just watching that video of Quake being played via Leap. I like that there's more fidelity than Kinect offers (notice in the Block 54 demo there are two small blocks on screen that represent the user's fingertips) and it might be an interesting peripheral for use during presentations or something, but I'm less excited about motion controls than I was last year.

But maybe that's just me. Is the Leap something that excites you or does it seem like a product that might have missed its window?

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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