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Control Google Earth like a Jedi with Leap Motion


April 22, 2013

Google Earth on desktops was just updated with support for Leap Motion gesture control

Google Earth on desktops was just updated with support for Leap Motion gesture control

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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

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

I "pre-ordered" the Leap last May and here it is a year later and I still haven't received it. It had the opportunity to be a game changer, but it is so long in coming out, I am not sure that still holds true.


They have totally banned any use of this for 3D printing, or any kind of real-world control, which IMHO means it's destined to be nothing more than a toy.

My release-2 model is not very inspiring: if you try to grab a virtual object, the LEAP can no longer see your fingers anymore... their software only understand the concept of a finger so long as the finger isn't touching anything (like, in the case of grabbing something, another finger). They also did a mailout telling us to expect shipment of new pre-release units, then didn't send them. Not a great way to keep developers as advocates...


Christopher - what do you mean when you say they have "totally banned" any use for 3D printing? Can you explain further? Is there anything more I can read about this?


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