Ready for Motion-Controlled Computers?

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An affordable new technology might turn you into a computer wizard — maybe not an expert, but you'll be able to control things with your hands.

Video gamers have been playing with motion-control technology for a while. There’s Nintendo’s Wiimote, Sony’s PlayStation Move, and Microsoft’s Kinect.

It was only a matter of time before that technology became part of mainstream computers. HP is partnering with a start-up company called Leap Motion to make it happen, Reuters says.

The company is based in San Francisco and has fewer than 100 employees, but has managed to develop a box the size of a pack of gum capable of precisely tracking movement — every finger individually, it says, within a hundredth of a millimeter.

If you have a ruler handy, that’s the space between two of the smallest notches on the metric side, divided by 100. Tiny.

For now they’ll be sold separately for $80, starting in mid-May. They’ll plug right in. Eventually, the technology will be built into HP’s computers.

More than 50,000 developers have shown interest in building software using the technology, Reuters says. They’ve pitched ideas ranging from creating 3-D models with a few wizardly waves to simulating musical instruments and remotely managing surgical robots. The idea could be as revolutionary as the touchscreen or the computer mouse, both credited to Apple.

This time, HP will get credit — and the PC maker needs it, as traditional computer sales continue to plummet in favor of tablets and smartphones. Of course, this tech will eventually be integrated into those too, when they find a way to shrink it a bit more.

Stacy Johnson

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