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Leap Motion Controller impressive, but has ways to go [Video]

Forget touch screens; with the Leap Motion Controller you can direct your computer by simply waving your hands.

Leap Motion, a San Francisco startup, introduced the idea of controlling your laptop or desktop through motion control early last year. After months and months of delay, the device is finally available for purchase.

The controller works very much like the Xbox Kinect and the Nintendo Wii. You simply move your hand above the device to control your computer.

The Leap Motion Controller looks like an oversized jump drive designed by Apple.

To use the device, users simply set the controller in front of their computer and connect the two using a USB cable. After downloading necessary software from Leap Motion, you are set to go.

The first thing users see when they start using the controller is a visually stunning demo that explains how the gadget works. The demo is eye candy, but more importantly, it's helpful for understanding how to use the device.

The Leap Motion Control is able to read gestures as far as two feet above it and two feet deep on each of its four sides. The device registers each of a user's 10 fingers as well as their hands.

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Once users are done with the demo, they can head to the Airspace Store where they can buy and download apps that work with the controller. Some apps are free, but many cost money.

The store is beautifully designed and is reminiscent of Windows Vista with the use of translucent backgrounds and pastel colors. The store works just like the app stores you find on tablets and smartphones.

There are a few apps that I would recommend: Cut the Rope, the popular smartphone game; Solar Warfare, a spaceship game; and Froggle, a fun game that features a frog jumping from leaf pad to leaf pad.

Aside from gaming, the device also shows promise when it comes to creative works. The Airspace Store was filled with music apps, such as DJ-ing tools, as well as apps that can be used to draw or edit pictures.

Another app that must be tried is Touchless. The app, which is free and developed by Leap Motion, turns the controller into the computer mouse. Users can browse the web or any other part of their computers using the controller when they run the Touchless app.

All in all, the Leap Motion Controller is very impressive and lives up to the hype, but it isn't flawless.

Of course, holding your hand up above a sensor for extended periods of times can get very tiring. And it can be very difficult to control some apps with the controller. It's tough to navigate around a desktop using Touchless, for example, and the same goes for various other apps.

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However, there were a few apps I tried that found ways to make navigating around with the Leap Motion Controller an easy task. That makes me think that as time goes on developers will likely find better ways for users to control their apps.

To use the controller, users will need a Windows 7 or 8 computer or a Mac with OS X 10.7 or 10.8. Their computers will also need at least 2-gigabytes of RAM and an AMD Phenom II or Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor.

The Leap Motion Controller can be bought online for $79.99 plus $7.99 for shipping. It will also be available at Best Buy soon for $79.99.

All in all, the Leap Motion Controller seems to be a cool tool for playing games on your computer and making creative projects. However, I would only recommend it to users who like being early adopters and don't mind waiting for the addition of more apps and crucial updates that will surely improve the software.

So if you're more of a casual user who's interested in the technology, I'd recommend waiting a bit for more apps to be added and for all apps to improve. 

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