By Yonatan Gordon
It’s been decided. Even before 2013 began, technology reporters the world over have declared the forthcoming Leap Motion sensor the best gadget of the New Year. What then is left for the rest of us? If you feel so inclined, you can line up behind the thousands of others to become a Leap Motion developer. But if you think there’s something more to life in 2013, then I encourage you to read on.
The first thing we know is that this is a motion sensor device “200 times more accurate than anything else on the market.” Unlike present body gesture devices (most notably Kinect from Microsoft), the iPod-sized Leap Motion is programmed specifically to read finger and hand movements. As the Leap Motion website states, “it can track your individual finger movements to 1/100th of a millimeter.”
Let’s start by first discussing what I call the “Vision Statement” behind the Leap Motion sensor. Every company (or brand) has a concept behind it. It is the concept, vision, or idea behind the brand that first explains why people are attracted to begin with. The “Vision Statement” is the central element of attraction that drives the public to a particular company or product.
At first glance, “Leap Motion” may seem a more fitting name for a full-body motion sensor. As with the physical jump of a person, the word “motion” relates more to the movements of the entire body, than it does to a specific body part. Whereas the connotation of “leap” is obvious–to reach something without having to physically interface with it–”motion” seems too general a word for a device that just reads finger and hand gestures.*
Technically speaking, the primary sense of the hands is touch–one’s tactile interface with the world. As an infant knows, in order to experience the world, you need to first feel everything around you. It seems then that “Leap Touch” would have been a more fitting name for the device.
The problem with this thinking is that it doesn’t ascribe any attractive or powerful element to hands. Hands can win or lose wars; can push a button that forever changes the lives of everyone on Earth or herald world peace. How many times have we pressed “send” on a text or email only to regret it later on? While there are many things that can be learned from body gestures, the hands are the culmination of all one’s toil and activities in this world.
LEAPING INTO YOUR POTENTIAL
What then is leaping? As we’ve seen, the attraction to Leap Motion is not simply about the movement of the hands. If this were so, the product should have been called “Leap Touch.” The thing that is leaping is one’s very ability to move forward in the world. We all know the famous quote “the pen is mightier than the sword,” perhaps one can translate that today as “written content leaps farther than you think.”
Each of us has vast hidden potentials. Most of us have heard that humans use only a small percentage of their brain’s capacity. What is rarely spoken about is the superhero capacity of a human. People like to be entertained by tales of superheroes, but rarely do we actually believe this for ourselves. The reason this device is so attractive is because it teaches us how to become a superhero.
The Leap Motion sensor was first inspired to assist digital artists mold clay faster. Whereas hands could always mold 3D objects in 10 seconds, it used to take people using computers 30 minutes or more. This fact still doesn’t explain the widespread attraction for this device. While there is a quantitative difference (it takes less time), to be a game changer, you need to change and improve the way people interact with the word (qualitative). The public is drawn to the idea that somehow sensing the hand’s movements will get the whole body leaping forward; not that it allows you to complete a tactile feat faster.
The only complete answer, then, is that the hands of a person leap farther than any other part of the body. By emphasizing hands as the central force of movement in the body, Leap Motion is helping us envision all our creative endeavors as something 3D; even the once presumed 2D task of writing or drawing.
It is said of the Superman character that he is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” As we will now explain, the very ability that turn into a superhero (to leap farther and faster) is most vested in the hands.
The hands are the culmination of one’s contributions to the world. For instance, when a person gives charity with his hands, it’s the result of the efforts of his whole body. He used all his limbs to make that money; but all of it culminates in opening of one’s hand to give charity.
By focusing on the latent power of the hands, Leap Motion is saying that even your presupposed 2D tasks like writing, should be approached as if you were constructing a 3D reality. More than a flat book or screen, words have the ability to move the hearts and minds of millions.
This is what makes the concept behind this machine so remarkable. It was impressive to hear that Superman could leap tall buildings, but until now, we always thought hands had a 2D element to them. While we knew prior to Leap Motion that molding took place in 3D space, in 2013 we have to rethink the very words we type. If they don’t verily leap from the page, there’s something wrong. Like in a YouTube video that goes “viral,” the written word will be seen as the biggest mover and shaker in 2013.
The written word is set in motion the moment you type it. The letters you type have the potential to leap and bound to destinations never thought possible.
This isn’t just poetry. It’s the real world. We all know that content is king. In 2013 we will begin to see how it rules the kingdom.
The question then is who is the true Superman? Clark Kent, the reporter for the Daily Planet … or that other guy in the cape?
Those familiar with this series are probably wondering where the Jewish terms and concepts are? Part of the fun of analyzing forthcoming products is that there are many to explain them. First we start with uncovering the Vision Statement, and then we can develop further from there.
As was mentioned above, the greatest concept behind Leap Motion is the expansion of human potential. Not linear progression, but quantum leaps and jumps forward from 2D to 3D reality. This then plays nicely with the concept that the Ba’al Shem Tov made famous called Kefitzas Ha’derech (lit. “the jumping of the road”). This was the phenomenon whereby he would leap great distances between cities on his wagon.
Another idea behind this device is the extension of the hands. A good story to express this is the Midrash where Batya’s hands extended in order to take baby Moses from the river.
Finally, perhaps the most related story for Leap Motion is Purim. As the usefulness of the sensor develops, the parallels will probably become clearer. But there is already much to write about how Achashverosh’s golden scepter extended to Queen Esther (another Midrash); and how the whole episode is about the extension of what rational thought deemed possible.
* Reader Note: Even if future advances of Leap Motion do include full-body sensing, this still doesn’t explain the present-day attraction to the brand. As with technology, attraction shifts over time. What are most important are the founding principles of attraction that remain consistent from one upgrade to the next.