Leap Motion's 3-D motion controllers will be included in some personal computers from Hewlett-Packard Co. this year, a move that the San Francisco startup hopes is a first step toward bringing touch-free computing to the masses.
Plugged into a computer, the 3-inch-long (7.5-centimeter-long) device tracks people's fingers and hand motions as they gesture, swipe and point at their computer screens. Applications developed for it let people control games, work on office tasks, paint pictures or design 3-D objects.
"What we've done is broken down the barrier between your brain, fingers and your computer," said Andy Miller, the chief operating officer at Leap and a former vice president of mobile advertising at Apple Inc.
At first, the controllers will be bundled with PCs and other devices from HP. But Leap said the companies plan to integrate the controllers and Leap's software more deeply into HP products. Eventually, these will mean tablet computers, smartphones and other devices.
"Customers want to go to the next level when creating and interacting with digital content," Ron Coughlin, HP's general manager of consumer PCs, said in a statement.
The move comes as PC sales are declining quickly as people and businesses are moving on to smartphones and tablet computers. Touch-free controls could help renew interest in PCs. Television makers have also been looking at gesture recognition as a feature to lure consumers into buying new sets.
Leap's controller uses three infrared LED lights and two cameras to track users' hands. It plugs into a Windows or Mac computer and sits between the user and the keyboard. Leap's bet is that allowing people to use natural hand movements to control what they do on a computer will make the interaction between human and machine more seamless.
The controllers alone will cost $80. It will be available next month in Best Buy stores, on Leap's website and on Amazon.com Inc.'s U.K. online store. HP and Leap did not say when the integrated devices will be available.
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