Tag Archives: Leap Motion

LEAP Motion – There’s elation but here’s the frustration…

A little disclaimer that this is a personal blog post and is in no way suggesting that other people will have the same experience with the device. For all I know I might be using it wrong. I haven’t time travelled with the device yet though.

So we got our hands on a Leap last week. For those who haven’t checked it out yet Leap is a new fangled kinect-style motion sensor that focuses on your hands rather than your full body. It’s a mere $80 to buy and is so small you’d barely notice it sitting on your desk. Most reviews I’ve seen have focused on the leap motion as a consumer, as you can play games and look at the shiny demos however I’m going to focus more on the aspects that are important to the demographic of this blog, what leap is like to develop for.

Firstly my setup. I’ve been using Leap with Derivative’s TouchDesigner and Morphic Creatives Leap OSC (version 0.5) for ease of use. All the data comes in beautifully and within minutes a particle system is flying around the screen courtesy of some wild finger waggling fun. I then decided to put the gestures through their paces and began playing with the swipe functionality which again worked wonderfully and had me up and running in minutes. It really does seem making a point and click Leap App in TouchDesigner is extremely rapid and extremely good fun too…unfortunately the down side comes when one attempts to go a step further.

Pinching is a simple gesture right? Well feeling very cocky with myself after my successful previous demo setups I decided to get stuck into it and make a mechanism which included my thumb moving towards my index finger as a trigger. I took the index finger position and my thumb position and then simply used the distance between those as my tipping point, lo and behold the second my thumb came into contact with my index finger Leap decided that my thumb was in fact an index finger and that humans don’t have thumbs at all. This is where my problem with Leap began to emerge, if it can’t see a finger, even for a split second that finger loses tracking.

So it’s clear my thumb didn’t go off the screen and safe to assume it is now sitting somewhere underneath my index finger so once those checks are added in it’s time to give the app a whirl again. Suddenly now both my thumb and my index finger have both vanished behind the back of my hand, for those of you who know me my hands aren’t very big…and my fingers are pretty spindly. The problem here is that the leap is below my hand, and unless I’m stretching my fingers out to the point where they ache it’s never tracking all of them at once, I actually checked my hand resting positions when using leap and 50% of the time (rough estimate) I was only tracking 2 or 3 fingers. This is fine for somebody who’s well versed in Leap composing however for the public (who I’m developing for) the excuses I was making for the software in my head simply weren’t holding up so I had to find another solution…

I 3D printed a stand for leap to sit in so rather than on the desk below my hand it could sit in front of my hand. This is something I did a lot with kinect however I then began to realise that unless leap is on the desk it’s not going to work. A little annoyed I decided to give up for a while and see if I could find any examples of intelligent gestures in the samples and online, I found none. So tomorrow I’m going to see how much further I can get in this regard. Leap is perfect for simple interactions but the small finger gestures which I was hoping would be integral to the device working unfortunately are more difficult to master than first thought. Perseverance is a great trait though and I shall persevere a while longer.

This article seems quite damning but with leap I must say that I have had more moments of elation than of frustration, for simple touchless interaction it’s pretty fun to use, this is more an illustration of the issues I’ve faced AND if you think you can help me out throw a comment in.

– Richard Burns