Haptix is Leap Motion for Real People

haptix

Haptix is the brainchild of a couple of Thiel Fellows and launched this morning on Kickstarter.  It’s a device that turns any surface a touchscreen.  You can connect it to the top of your laptop, monitor, or anywhere that its cable can reach.   Its 2 image sensors and some smart software figure out where your hands are and can detect whether your touching the surface, waving above the surface and whether you “clicked” or touched points on the surface.

For example, you could use Haptix to turn your entire keyboard into a touchable surface and do things like scrolling webpages, browsing photo albums and pinch-zooming by simply swiping your fingers over the keys.

I have a Leap Motion, and I can say I was quite excited about the potential of that device.  That was, until I got it.  I haven’t written up my thoughts yet, but if I did, it would read a lot like the post, “Leap Motion: Amazing Revolutionary, Useless“.  Leap is a product that’s full of promise but which, at least for now, fails to deliver.  In my view, Leap Motion has some pretty serious design flaws:  (1) lifting one’s arms to gesture control anything becomes quite physically tiring very quickly and (2) the  precision of Leap Motion is exciting on paper, but too precise and impractical for everyday convenience motions.  The device and its apps can never seem to recognize basic gestures.  In short, Leap Motion make me reach for my mouse to create a Craigslist ad to sell it.

But Haptix is exciting because it overcomes those design flaws.  Haptix is ergonomical to use — it doesn’t require lifting your arms out of the air to use. Typing one minute and then swiping across your keys to scroll a page it actually more natural and ergonomical than using a mouse or touchpad.  That means they’ve actually removed friction from the mouse and trackpad user experience.  No small feat given how many years those have been around.

Haptix also punts on “1/100th of a millimeter” accuracy in favor of being able to recognize precise motion across just two planes of depth: touching the surface and gesturing above the surface.  I can think of a lot of useful gestures that could be creating with Haptix.

The team also promises to release a developer API but doesn’t go into much detail yet. Haptix is available to early birds for $59, free shipping in the US.

Check out Haptix on Kickstarter

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