Leap Motion sets ship date for controllers

Courtesy of Leap Motion/Courtesy of Leap Motion - Leap Motion's gesture control system will hit store shelves on May 19. Pre-orders will ship on May 13.

Leap Motion has announced that its gesture-control system will cost $80, and will be available in Best Buy stores on May 19.

The company said Thursday that it hopes to take mainstream consumers beyond the mouse with its new system, which lets users make 3D models, paint and play games simply by moving their hands in front of the screen.

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Michael Buckwald, the company’s chief executive officer, said that the way we currently interact with computers keeps people from doing many things, such as creating 3D models, because it’s too difficult to do with a keyboard and mouse.

Buckwald said he and co-founder Dave Holz had been frustrated that “a five-year-old can make something out of clay that it takes hours for an engineer to do” on a computer.

“The greatest thing holding us back is not power of computers or size of devices but the way that people interact with them,”

Being able to essentially reach in to the computer and grab, touch and shape what’s on screen, he said, sure beats having to draw a curved edge with the aid of several drop-down menus.

Those who’ve already ordered the device will have their systems shipped on May 13, when the company is also launching an app marketplace, Airspace, with apps that take advantage of the controller’s capabilities.

Buckwald declined to give an exact figure when asked how many pre-orders the company has shipped, but said it was in the “hundreds of thousands,” and that the Leap will be shipping orders to over 100 countries at launch.

The company also will be shipping any controller bundles ordered through its partnership with Asus in May, he said.

Launch date apps include games such as Cut the Rope and Sugar Rush, a title based on the “Wreck-It Ralph” movie. Autodesk also is an early partner, putting forward a version of its 123D Design program, a 3D modeling program aimed at consumers. Corel is offering a version of its Painter program.

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