At a show where developers are rock stars, Leap Motion just might be this year's Beatles. SXSW isn't the first time the company has given demos of its motion-controlled input devices, but it really seems to be the moment the world is taking notice -- and realizing the potential -- of its offering. Over the weekend, co-founders Michael Buckwald and David Holz addressed a packed Austin Convention Center hall, ahead of keynote conversations with Al Gore and Elon Musk.
The company set aside some time this morning to speak with us and offer up some demos of the technology, expanding upon what we saw on stage the other day. At present Leap Motion's primary offering is a small box that sits by a PC, just in front of your keyboard. The little sensor detects the motion of your hands with a precision that allows it to distinguish the movement of individual fingers.
One of the places the company is looking to set itself apart from the likes of Kinect is in the use of natural movement to manipulate objects on screen, rather than somewhat artificial gestures, which require users to learn a sort of sign language. And indeed, in our demos, interfacing is quite naturally. There's a bit a learning curve when orienting yourself, but playing a casual game like Fruit Ninja is extremely intuitive. Of course, this is all still early stage stuff -- Leap Motion doesn't consider itself an app developer, focusing instead on the hardware / software combo of the device itself.
Thankfully, there's no lack of interest on the developer front. During our conversation, Buckwald, told us that the company has sent out more than 12,000 devices to developers -- that list was culled down from the 50,000 who applied, all pitching the company on how they would use the technology. Larger companies have expressed interest, as well -- Disney, for one, is jumping on board. The company's also working to embed the technology, both in computing devices like laptops and tablets -- and eventually wearables, which could help see that whole Minority Report thing come into fruition -- without all the future crime stuff, of course.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.