If you're reading this on a laptop, in a few years you might be navigating this article by waving your hands in front of the screen. That could be a common mode of laptop interaction, if Hewlett-Packard's embedding of Leap Motion technology catches on.
On Thursday, the companies announced that the gestural technology will be available as part of the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition laptop, which features a 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 screen and will available for pre-order on October 16 for a starting price of $1,050.
Leap Motion's app store software, Airspace, is pre-installed on the Envy 17, as are drivers for the controller. The laptop also features a Haswell Intel Core i7 processor and a one terabyte hard disc. Several Leap Motion-enabled apps are also included, including a drawing program.
Reduced by 70 Percent
This is the first embedded use of the Leap Motion technology in a computer. The company's small controller, which connects to a computer via a USB, went on sale this summer. In January, Leap Motion said that computer maker Asus would bundle its controller with several models, and a deal to embed its technology in some unspecified HP models was announced in April.
The standalone controller, about the size of a pack of cigarettes and priced around $80, offers a 150-degree field of view and a high-resolution capability to track all 10 fingers up to 290 frames per second with 1/100th of a millimeter resolution.
In order to embed its controller in the HP laptop, Leap Motion said that it has reduced its size by 70 percent. The controller sensor resides in the laptop's wrist rest, and is only .14 inches in height. The company also said that it is currently in discussions with other computer makers to similarly embed its technology, but no specific brands have yet been announced.
But Leap Motion has big plans. CEO Michael Buckwald has told news media that "we want to be embedded everywhere."
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told NewsFactor that "Microsoft has proven the efficacy of motion controllers" with its hit Kinect peripheral for the Xbox videogame system. That technology giant has been working on various possible applications of Kinect technology for other uses, including with laptops, although models such as the Envy 17 have not yet been announced.
Shimmin said that if users can control their laptops or desktops via Leap Motion gestural technology while resting on elbows so as not to induce fatigue, and "if it can work consistently across apps" that people commonly use, it might become a useful addition to the current interaction repertoire of keyboard, mouse, and touchscreen.
In fact, he added, it might become more popular than touchscreens on a laptop or desktop, because of the fatigue factor involved in reaching out to touch a screen all day.