Recently a contact in the IT industry sent me a link to this site about a neat little new gizmo called ‘Leap Motion‘. He had managed to get hold of one before its general release, and having put it through its paces described it as being ‘pretty cool’.
Essentially Leap Motion is a small, inexpensive iPod-sized unit that you attach to your PC and it enables you to control and interact with your computer by waving your hands, or rather fingers, around in front of the screen, Minority Report-style. It’s fast and fluid, sensitive and accurate, and brings with it the need to develop a whole new set of control gestures that have the potential to enable one to interact with a computer in completely new ways.
For now, of course, it’s a solution looking for a problem, but, like the iPhone and iPad, that’s where creative developers will come in and create applications we never imagined we needed or wanted. It remains to be seen if it turns out to be no more than a novelty item or the start of something that will become commonplace over the next few years.
There are obvious applications in games and 3D modelling such as rotating CAD drawings and renderings or clay modelling, but what about its impact on artistic mark-making? At one extreme, as shown in the promotional video, it offers little more than an instant art experience. But at the other, what opportunities might it bring to a more serious production of works of art? I’m not suggesting for one moment that a Leap Motion device is going to replace existing forms of drawing, painting and sculpture, but I’m wondering if it will provide a new media that, like the iPad, will have its own potential and limitations defined by specific new skills and techniques?
All that remains to be seen, but if I were still in the classroom I would love to have such a device to play with, or rather I mean of course, for my students to creatively explore and experiment with!