It seems like the last few years were all about watching smartphones and tablets get better and faster. But how much of that was really new? 2013, though, could give us some truly breakthrough products. Google Glass, Apple’s rumored iWatch, and Leap Motion could all be big-time game-changers. One of those just teamed up with another big partner, as the new version of Google Earth plays nicely with Leap Motion.

Leap Motion – which is basically Kinect on steroids – is a tiny sensor that lets you control your Windows, Mac, or Linux PC with precise mid-air gestures. The company wants to launch with as much great software support as possible, and Google Earth is a big feather in that cap. With version 7.1 for desktops (available now) you can now use Leap to zoom through big cities, rustic boroughs, and Arctic tundra like you’re Obi Wan Kenobi.

If you check out the short video clip below, you’ll see that the Leap + Earth marriage gives you more than just airborne pinching and zooming. It basically turns your hand into a spaceship, as you swoop under bridges, buzz tall buildings, and spin the Earth like it’s a basketball.

Almost here

Unless you’re a developer, you can’t get your hands on Leap just yet. But the wait is almost over, as pre-orders start shipping next month, alongside a US retail launch at Best Buy.

Just last week, Leap announced that it will come pre-bundled with some HP PCs. Back in January, we got word of a similar deal with Asus. The PC industry has seen better days, so OEMs are apparently welcoming innovation with open arms.

We'll have to wait to see whether Leap catches on enough to really be a game-changer. But the ingredients are there, and there's excitement in the air. And these kinds of deals with PC makers and Google certainly don't hurt its chances.

You can see Leap Motion control Google Earth for yourself in the video below.

Source: Google Earth Blog