Leap Motion, the company making extremely accurate gesture detection hardware, has signed a deal to bundle and then integrate its motion-based controller into select HP products. This is a big win for Leap, which already has a deal with ASUS that will bundle the Leap Motion device in with its all in one computers as well as select ASUS notebooks this year.
Bundling is good, but integration is always better in the consumer world, since most consumers may not have any idea that they want gesture-based controls or even why. Leap’s system works like a Kinect with an exterior piece of hardware attached to the computer that detects hand motions with a high degree of accuracy — within 1/100th of a millimeter. As for why someone might want this on their machine, it’s an enabler for new types of computing experiences.
When the company raised an additional $30 million earlier this year, I wrote how excited I was at the potential for gesture-controls to change how we think of the PC by enabling new applications like molding clay, manipulating spreadsheets in 3-D or playing an instrument. From the post:
That’s a nice win in the computing space, but the real question for me is can a new UI change how we interact with computers, and perhaps help keep the PC relevant? David Holz, the a co-founder and CTO of Leap told me that he helped invent the product because he wanted to do things on his computer, like play an instrument or make a model, that were made far too complicated by the existing programs limited by drop down menus necessitated by having a keyboard or mouse interface.
This deal with HP may help drive the adoption of more of those Leap-specific applications by helping deliver a larger audience for developers. Already Leap has sent out 12,000 units for free to developers to prime the pump for new applications, but now it needs to give those programmers an audience. As is always the case with a new user interface platform, it could be the most awesome experience since the touch screen, but if people don’t use it, the apps won’t arrive.