'Invisible' 3D device lets users navigate Web using hand gestures

Using hand gestures to navigate online may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but one company is making it a reality.

Leap Motion co-founder David Holz is flying through Google Earth by waving his fingers in thin air.
Controlling computers with gestures -- you've seen it in movies and maybe even heard experts predict it's the next big thing.

But actually, it's not big at all. Just about three inches long, the Leap is a tiny device you set on your desk. Its makers hope it will fundamentally change how you use your computer.

"Suddenly you can do more complex things much faster, but you can also do them much more intuitively, so the entire experience is radically transformed," Leap Motion co-founder Michael Buckwald said.

Out of the box, it replaces a mouse for simple things like browsing the web and it does stuff you could never do with a mouse.

"Where you're sort of reaching into a virtual world and sort of grabbing things and moving things around, and so you're going through three dimensional space and doing sorts of complicated things," Holz said.

There are other gesture control systems, but what sets the Leap apart is that it's cheaper, about $70 to be exact -- and soon, your laptop may have one built in.

"We're working with lots of OEMs to integrate it into devices like laptops and smartphones, ultimately we think that everywhere there's a computer there should be a Leap device," Buckwald said.

The device works using tiny, inexpensive camera modules -- much like the ones in a cellphone.

It took six years of research to build software that looks at all the images at once, in order to track your fingers with startling accuracy.

"And it's one of those rare situations where a technology is truly fundamentally transformative and where technology can simultaneously be cheaper and better and smaller," Buckwald said.

The company is taking pre-orders on their website now. https://www.leapmotion.com/