Reach in to your computer screen Leap Motion aims to capture next

‘Reach in’ to your computer screen: Leap Motion aims to capture next step in motion control by Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press Posted Mar 12, 2013 2:51 pm MDT AUSTIN, Texas – In a bustling tent set up in a parking lot here at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, people are pointing their hands and gesturing with chopsticks as they guide various actions on a dozen computer screens.Some of the sharpest minds in technology have gathered in Austin, Texas, to ponder the ever-connected nature of the modern world. A big theme this year focuses on how to create more seamless interactions between people and technology, finding ways to control devices that go beyond mice, trackpads and touchscreens.That’s where the Leap Motion a computer controller comes in. It’s the gadget’s first public appearance. On display are popular games such as the fruit-chopping “Fruit Ninja,” and a more challenging one involving a maze. One man paints a picture by moving his fingers a few inches from a computer screen.Greg Dziem, who works in data management in Austin, is using the controller to play the maze game. “It’s pretty sensitive,” he says. “You have to go slow. You have to be calm, steady.”The best-known motion controller to date has been Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect, which is used primarily for video games. People stand at least six feet from the device, which is usually mounted on or near a TV set. Cameras in the Kinect track users’ movements and transmit them to the computer. But while Kinect is meant for living rooms and dancing games, Leap Motion is designed for people to use while seated and moving their hands just a few inches from the screens of laptops and personal computers.“The technology was born out of the deep frustration of interacting with computers,” says CEO and co-founder Michael Buckwald. While computers are “vastly different” than they were 30 years ago, he says, the way people interact with them hasn’t really evolved.Leap hopes to change that, allowing people to use natural hand movements to control games, complete office tasks, paint, create 3-D objects, and edit music and video. Leap’s creators don’t like to use the word “gesture” because that implies a set of pre-determined hand movements to control the screen. Instead, they like to think of their technology as more seamless than that.Buckwald talks about the barrier that exists between computers and their users and says the best way to get rid of it is to harness “people’s natural ability to interact” with the machine.“Every day we reach out and grab things,” he says. “It’s very natural, but very complicated. We want people to reach into the computer.”Using Leap may take a little getting used to, if only because people who are accustomed to touchscreens may be tempted to poke at the monitor instead of sweeping and flicking their hands a few inches away from it.In a demonstration, Leap’s vice-president of product marketing, Michael Zagorsek, showed off a yet-to-be named photo application that lets people browse through the photos on their computer using Leap. In another app, users can strum on-screen strings to make music. A demo-only program designed to show Leap’s properties lets users mould a piece of virtual clay using their hands and a chopstick. There was no noticeable lag between the off-screen action and the on-screen movement.The device itself is a bit longer and narrower than a matchbox. It works using three infrared LED lights and two cameras to track users’ hands. It plugs into a PC or a Mac and sits between the user and the keyboard.The controllers will cost $80 and will be sold in Best Buy stores beginning on May 19. Leap will have an app store, called Airspace, with free and paid apps available in areas that range from gaming to 3-D modeling to travel to business and finance.__Online: www.leapmotion.com AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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Column Making chemical weapons a defining issue in Syria sends entirely the

first_imgIF, AS IT has been announced by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Syrian government has destroyed its capacity for developing chemical weapons, then this is to be welcomed.However, no one should kid themselves that it will make a blind bit of difference to the everyday lives of ordinary Syrian people, or to the ability of aid agencies like GOAL to access areas of need. It won’t.There have been at least 100,000 people killed in Syria in less than three years (the true figure may be twice that) and innumerable people injured.Entire towns, villages and heavily-populated city neighbourhoods have been levelled; more than 4.25 million people driven from their homes; and in excess of 7 million people left in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. At most, only around one per cent of the deaths in Syria have been caused by chemical weapons, and none of the destruction.Daily bombing, and sniper and rocket fireMillions of people did not flee their homes because they feared that chemical weapons might be unleashed upon them. Rather, they fled the daily bombing, and sniper and rocket fire they have been subjected to. Throughout the furore around chemical weapons, the levels of “conventional” violence have not diminished in the slightest.Abhorrent as the use of chemical weapons was, to make it a defining issue in the Syrian context sent out entirely the wrong message.For more than two years, the world stood by and did nothing about the wholesale slaughter Syria. Only when chemical weapons were used was an ultimatum issued. The unmistakable subtext was that what had gone before, and continues unchecked, was acceptable.It is a subtext that certainly hasn’t been lost on the hundreds of Syrians that I have spoken to over the past three months. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have, in one form or another, said to me: “So this means that it’s okay for us to be bombed by Migs [fighter planes] and tanks, and to be shot down in the street, as long as they don’t use chemicals.”The world’s apathetic attitude to SyriaAside from the deaths, destruction and overall humanitarian catastrophe that has been created, something else has resulted from the world’s apathetic attitude to Syria. Foreign jihadist fighters have eagerly filled the vacuum, flocking to the country to pursue their own fundamentalist agendas. It matters not one jot to these people whether or not the Syrian government can produce chemical weapons.Moreover, jihadist groups are rapidly gaining ground in Syria, constantly moving into areas that had previously been relatively safe for agencies like GOAL to operate in. Not surprisingly, the delivery of aid is becoming increasingly difficult.If the international community is serious about helping the people of Syria, it should set about creating the conditions for a massive humanitarian intervention, which of course would mean concentrating on what is actually killing people. If this doesn’t happen, then it will prove what many of us already suspect: that the chemical weapons issue was cynically used to avoid doing much at all.David Adams is a media officer with GOAL. He has been in Syria for the past three and a half months. GOAL’s Syria intervention is delivering a monthly food ration and other aid to 240,000 people a month. In preparation for the winter, GOAL will soon be targeting 12,000 families with non-food items, including woollen blankets, buckets and jerry cans; and a further 5,700 families with hygiene kits. To learn more about GOAL’s work in Syria, click here. To donate to GOAL, click here.Read: Syria has destroyed all of its chemical weapons equipment: watchdogRead: Syrian families try to recover in neighbouring refugee campsRead: UN warns of Syria polio outbreak after cluster of cases reportedlast_img read more

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