The newly unveiled HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE is going to be the first laptop to come with built-in Leap Motion technology. Leap Motion technology has already been around a few months, available for use with PCs and Macs. It offers users, in principle, the chance to be like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, controlling the things on their screens just by moving their hands about in mid-air. But not just randomly of course, it’s a bit more precise than that. Possessing two camera sensors and three LEDs, the Leap Motion controller is said to be able to sense movements as fractional as 0.01mm in any direction. That’s got to be ultimate precision, right? Surely you could do anything? Well first let’s take a step back.
Following the launch of Nintendo’s Wii in 2006, gesture control has slowly been creeping its way through the gaming world. In 2010 Microsoft released Kinect for the Xbox 360 and Sony released PlayStation Move for the PS3. From there it was only going to be a matter of time till this technology found its way into our offices, because after Nintendo’s success everyone wanted to have a go. Along the way gesture control technology has appeared in camcorders like the Casio Tryx and TVs like the LG 471A660V.
HP’s Leap Motion notebook is going to be released in October, the same month that sees the release of Surface 2, Microsoft’s latest tablet computer. For those purchasing the latter, an optional extra is the Touch Cover 2 keyboard which incorporates, yes you guessed it, gesture control.
So is this the future? In a word, no. Not in the office, or at least not yet anyway.
Looking at the articles about their new laptop on HP’s website it seems like almost all the accompanying pictures demonstrating this new-fangled feature are of people playing games. That is what it seems this technology is best for at the moment – games and apps. Because is there any real benefit to being able switch webpages with a swipe of your hand rather than a click of a mouse? Why would an artist want to pick up a pencil and draw in mid-air when they could do a much better job on a piece of paper?
So does this mean then that gesture control is just going to disappear? Not necessarily, because the technology does have potential. Imagine being able to manipulate the component, parts of a complex design with your hands, switching them in and out, turning them round, connecting them together. Imagine being able to view a virtual 3D environment from all angles, to zoom in just where you want to, to be able to move your viewpoint to anywhere within the environment with a flick of a finger. Gesture control technology has potential but in order to reach that potential new software needs to be developed. Only then might it be useful for the workplace. Until then the likes of HP’s new Leap Motion notebook, which will be retailing at $1,049.99 in the US, seem like very expensive toys that are more likely to distract people from their work than help them to get it done.
Jon Smith is an e-Marketing Specialist for Insight UK, a leading provider of IT hardware, software and services including a wide range of laptops from the world’s leading IT manufacturers.