For science fiction and cyberpunk geeks such as myself, there is a certain thrill that comes with new technologies. Not mere titillation nor the garden variety mesmerization to be found amongst iPad users, but the astonishment that comes when the technologies envisaged in our favorite SF are made real.
Steve Jobs, Apple and a number of other players deserve credit for making iPads and iPhones so easy to use and elegant in appearance, but they were merely playing out the dreams of SF’s greatest minds: Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clark, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and John Sladek, amongst many others. It took Jobs and Apple, and a couple generation’s worth of research and development, to place the world of science fiction quite literally at our fingertips.
The latest entry into this world will push us straight into the world visualized by Stephen Spielberg in his adaptation of PKD’s “Minority Report.” In that film the character John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise) uses his hands to move holographic images around on an invisible screen. A great film in its totality, many people were thrilled by the scenes involving such a convincing piece of technology.
That technology will now be made available with the Leap Motion. For $70 the makers of Leap Motion say that users will be able to “own the future” and “say goodbye to your mouse and keyboard.”
The website reads:
Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.
This isn’t a game system that roughly maps your hand movements. The Leap technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — at any price point. Just about the size of a flash drive, the Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.
This is like day one of the mouse. Except, no one needs an instruction manual for their hands.
As inspiring as the Leap Motion is, it’s important to keep in mind that it evolved through the efforts of many technologists over time. But as the makers of Leap Motion have proven, along with our great SF writers, we are only limited by our imaginations. And with developers racing to create products for the Leap Motion, there’s no telling where this technology will lead humanity.
The Cyberpunk Age is truly upon us.
Watch video of the Leap Motion in action.
[Image: Mathew Scott/Bloomberg Businessweek]