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Leap Motion teams up with Google Earth

A user demonstrates a new motion-control sensor in this undated handout photo provided by Leap Motion April 15, 2013. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

Leap Motion, fresh off of a major partnership announcement with Hewlett-Packard last week, announced Monday that its gesture controls are now supported in Google Earth.

Leap produces a three-inch, $80 computer accessory that allows users to control their computers with a wave of the hand or a flick of the wrist. The devices will begin shipping on May 13 and be in Best Buy stores on May 19.

Leap has already sent 10,000 developers units to test as they build new software to work with the device.

The new Google Earth features, announced in conjunction with Google’s celebration of Earth Day, will work with the new desktop version of the software that Google released Monday.

With gesture controls, users can wave their hands to pan, zoom and spin the globe. It’s arguably a more intuitive way view maps than the click-wheel and mouse — and is probably more fun.

This Google alliance is the latest in a series of high-profile partnerships that Leap has made ahead of its launch. Last week, the company said that its controllers will be bundled with new HP computers and eventually be embedded in their devices. The company made a similar bundling announcement with Asus in January, but HP is the first to say it will embed the technology, as The Washington Post reported.

The company has also said that it will launch its own app store in May, called Airspace, to feature software programs that include its motion technology. Software partners already on board include 3D design software maker Autodesk, “Cut The Rope” maker Zepto Labs and Corel, which is offering a version of its Painter program in the store.

Related stories:

Ideas@Innovations: Leap Motion teams up with HP to bundle and embed 3D motion tech in products

Leap Motion sets ship date for controllers

The mouse faces extinction as computer interaction evolves

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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