A new company called Leap Motion today announced an incredible peripheral that will do for motion capture what the original iPhone did for touchscreens. The small USB unit sits around the base of your monitor and can map the position of your hand above it with a frightening degree of precision. In their debut trailer, Leap Motion showed some iOS fravorites in action, like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Google Maps, and they all performed admirably with the same swipes and multitouch gestures as the original mobile apps. The Angry Birds demo was particularly interesting because the sensor recognized chopsticks, which is good news for creative types that will need stylus-grade precision for this kind of system to be practical.
The most obvious parallel to this system is Microsoft's Kinect, but the Xbox peripheral is primarily geared towards full-body motion capture and has an obvious lean towards gaming. The closest I've seen to something like this in a mobile integration was from a Texas Instruments prototype, and even that relied on a custom stylus. The big challenge for Leap Motion will be getting big-name developers on board, but if they can assert themselves as a reliable, sellable name in consumer motion tracking, we may very well be seeing the birth of the next generation of user input, folks.
You can pre-order a Leap Motion accessory for $69.99 (provided they have any left). Anyone taking bets on which tech giant will try to acquire the Leap Motion guys? Do you see any particularly great cross-over for the iPhone and iPad, or are you perfectly happy with existing touch input on mobile devices? Watch the video below, and let us know if you're thinking anything other than "shut up and take my money". My only concern with it so far is that the Leap Motion will be a huge resource hog.