TheVerge gadget website finally caught onto to what theOpenSourcery readers have known about 3 weeks ago. The next dynamite NUI-Natural User Interface that is going to sweep the Consumer Computing scene is LeapMotion’s SuperKinect, 3D pointer tool which will hopefully do away with both the mouse and all variety’s of trackpads over the long haul. But all this is a test of Post PC versus Classic PC technology innovation across the Computing industry and graphics Software in particular.
Clearly everybody knows now that there is a game changing UI and pointing technology that is cheap, super versatile and going to hit the PC market [Linux, Mac, Windows] sometime between December 2012 to February 2013]. Now three questions immediately arise:
First: What Does Microsoft Do About LeapMotion?
Lets face it LeapMotion’s 3D Tool obsoletes the current Kinect technology. It also may be a rescue agent for Windows 8 that has collected the ire of classic Windows 7 developers because touch screen operations are given preferential treatment in the new Metro Style UI to the disadvanatge of classic Desktop UI user. With a LeapMotion device attached suddenly Windows 8 users don’t have to Metro-envy.
But Microsoft has to resolve more than what to do with future Kinect commitments. They have $59billion in the cash coffers. they [or Apple or Google] could buy the technology easily. But is it easily copied or duplicated – how big and effective are the patent moats surrounding LeapMotions tool. And of course what are the antitrust implications of a purchase and proprietizing of the technology?
Second: Which Hardware Vendors are first to take advantage of LeapMotion?
The Post PC iDevices are supposed to be indicative of which technology companies and hardware providers can innovative fastest. Will it be the smartphone or tablet vendors that embrace LeapMotion first? Will Google embed this in one of their “reference tablets”? Or will Tim Cook finally prove that he has the Jobsian innovation savvy and put a device in iPads and Macs? Not likely since they have touch capabilities already.
So will it be the US or Asian PC manufacturers who will be looking for ways to differentiate themselves from each other and their Microsoft, “its onlya reference” Surface Pro, hardware competitor? Or will it be game players like Sony and Nintendo both reeling from the combined Xbox and tablet incursions? And how will Wacom with Cintiq and their pressure sensitive stylus be able to play against such a formidable competitor. Or does tilt orientation and pressure detection, plus speed of motion give Wacom insulation against the the new LeapMotion 3D tool?
Third: Which Software Vendors will Leap into Motion first?
Software vendors, particularly the graphics software vendors like AutoCAD and Adobe, are a)looking for new and exciting features and b) ways to fend off the increasingly invasive OS vendors like Apple [Aperture, Garageband, Final Cut Pro, etc] and Microsoft[Metro, SilverLight, Visio, etc]. Now having a SDK that provides 3D precise control on a quickness and accuracy unheard of – well one can think of some advantages to these vendors. Or will it be the PostPC app vendors that embrace the technology first. Personally I think it is the game vendors that will be first to grab onto this innovation; but market positions could change with the opportunity opened up for graphics, photofinishing, and highly dense panel rich software and their complex interfaces.
LeapMotion provides a unique opportunity to see how a major, game changing UI innovation gets adopted by player who many times have been accused of being the beneficiaries of Accidental Empires. However, the graphics and media intensive hardware and software vendors appear to have the most at stake because Mission Impossible in UI has just become highly doable.