When Leap Motion first launched its gesture-based controller, many wondered whether the device would have many practical applications, beyond games and gimmicky apps.
A lot has changed in the past year since we first saw the Leap Motion controller, which enables users to control and interact with screens through hand gestures alone.
If anyone still has reservations about the potential of Leap's platform to change lives, theLeap AXLR8R is here to disprove that. The startup accelerator, backed by SOS Ventures, has been working with a handful of startups to build new tools and applications with Leap Motion.
Mashable was at the accelerator's inaugural demo day, where the first class of startups presented their businesses to investors. Here are several of our favorite ideas from the session:
Mirror Training is using Leap Motion to power robotic arms that can be used in the battlefield to disable bombs, IEDs and other threats. The robots currently being used in the field are painstakingly slow, which leaves troops vulnerable to further attacks, according to company founder Liz Alessi. Replacing the current methods with a Leap Motion-enabled device that relies on natural hand movements will enable faster and safer removal.
Alessi said their robotic arms have applications beyond war zones, and the company envisions the technology eventually being used domestically by hazmat crews, search-and-rescue teams and other first responders.
MotionSavvy is building a platform that allows deaf people to communicate with those around them in real-time. The company is using Leap Motion to build gesture-recognition software that translates sign language into speech in real-time.
The software is currently tablet-based, and will sell for $600 plus a $20 per month subscription when it launches next year. MotionSavvy also wants to develop a smartphone case by 2016 to make it even more portable.
Ethereal is using Leap's gesture-based interface to give artists more creative ways to approach their work. The software, which is already on sale, lets users draw and paint in Photoshop without ever touching the screen or a single piece of hardware.
In addition to the software, Ethereal is partnering with online marketplace Skyou to enable its users to print their art on customized t-shirts and backpacks.
GetVu is using Leap Motion to build augmented-reality developer tools, including a headset powered by a Leap Motion controller and Android phone, which allows the wearer to interact with virtual objects.
The startup just launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund its augmented-reality headset and software-plugin combo, as well as open up its platform to other developers.