As if news websites weren't already under siege from the flood of mobile devices, now they'll have to contend with gesture controls via the Leap Motion interactive controller, and a New York Times compatible app.
True News Interactivity
Instead of a one way megaphone, the Internet has turned news into a multi faceted animal, and now anyone has a say on every topic. Microsoft already helped revolutionize console gaming with its Kinect interactive controller, and now the Leap Motion is about to launch this month to take on the rest of the virtual world.
Not that Kinect is no longer relevant, it's just that the Leap Motion is so much more sensitive, and not sold as just a gaming controller. No doubt Leap Motion will be a great game controller, but that's only one use of a device that could open up a whole new world of digital interactivity.
Clearly things like 3D modeling, and even presentations will be much more interactive with the Leap Motion, but does the New York Times really think the news is ready for this kind of disruption? When Leap Motion officially debuts, a New York Times app will be downloadable from the Airspace Store, the device's app store.
It's a free app, and will be compatible with OSX 10.7 and 10.8, and Windows 7 and 8 laptops and desktops.
New York Times is on it
Whether this is all a publicity stunt, we don't know. The New York Times clearly has the money to develop such an app, and it's not charging for the app itself or for the content accessible through it. Customers won't need to have a subscription to read news, at least that's how it will be at launch.
Consequently, the app will feature a new type of advertisement that will allow people to interact with them via motion control. Navigation of the app goes like this. A Top News feed will appear in card format, and each card has a headline, teaser and an image. Top News is controlled by moving a hand left or right, and tapping an article flips a card over for the entire story.
Up and down scrolling is done via a circular hand motion, and moving between stories is done with a swipe. In order to go back to Top News from inside a story, a shake of the hand does the trick. Here's a quick demo video.
From the looks of this video, it's clearly a first step. If Leap Motion is a success, NYT will no doubt look to build on this early version. Other apps available at launch will be DecoSketch, a drawing app, Unbound for Mac, a photo gallery, Dropchord, a music app, and Unlock, a way to log in to Windows machines via motion control.
July 22 is the launch date, so more details about apps and the device itself will be ready then. Tell us in the comments what kinds of uses you foresee for Leap Motion. We're looking forward to hooking up a couple of large monitors so we can do our best Minority Report impression. Truthfully, we're not even sure Leap Motion supports multiple screens yet, but once it does, that kind of set up looks to be extraordinaily immersive.
For presentations especially, we'd like to see Leap Motion in action. Perhaps a Goolge+ Hangout type of scenario, where a 3D model could be shared across screens. That would be great for product demonstrations, for example. The small black Leap Motion sensor is US$ 80, and connects via USB.