HP has announced a partnership with motion control specialist Leap Motion to create the world's first laptop to feature the company's sensor technology built directly into the chassis.
Launched following numerous delays - the device was supposed to be on shop shelves last year, but failed to materialise until the company could secure additional funding - the Leap Motion is a clever little beast: using a compact and Apple-esque USB-connected 'puck,' the system can track the user's hands and fingers in 3D space with a claimed accuracy of 1/100th of a millimetre at a rate of 290 frames per second. Compared to webcam-based alternatives, like the PointGrab
, that's undoubtedly impressive.
Early adopters, however, have been less than impressed. Although the hardware appears to work as promised, the software integration isn't quite there yet. Casual gaming - the device comes with a copy of the smartphone game Cut The Rope, which is based on gesture control - appears to work OK, but few have been able to integrate it into their workflows for more serious tasks.
That's something Leap Motion and its cadre of developers will likely improve with time, of course, but only if the device itself can achieve market acceptance. For desktops, buying an additional puck-like device isn't a problem - but for laptop users an integrated system would be preferable.
Thankfully, that's exactly what Leap Motion and HP are offering. The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition, to give the new device its full name, is the first laptop to include Leap Motion technology integrated directly into the device - and HP claims it will have more Leap Motion-enabled devices to come in the near future.
The sensor, removed from its casing, is shrunk down and placed below the keyboard and to the right of an off-centre trackpad. Less than half the height and width of the normal Leap Motion controller, the sensor is a mere 3.5mm high and thus adds little bulk to the laptop itself - helped, no doubt, by the already large chassis and 17.3" display. The laptop will include Leap Motion's Airspace Home software platform along with five bundled games: Boom Ball, Jungle Jumper, Dropchord, Disney Sugar Rush and the HP-exclusive Jack Lumber.
UK pricing for the device has yet to be confirmed, with HP setting a US recommended retail price of $1,049.99 (around £654 excluding taxes) ahead of an October launch. A video demonstrating the device is reproduced below.