Leap Motion launched its groundbreaking motion detection module on Monday, allowing anyone to connect a little box to their Mac or Windows computer that can detect gestures more precisely than Microsoft Kinect can, for a mere $80. Eventually, Leap Motion technology will be integrated into computers, so you won’t even need to buy a separate box in order to wave your hands in the air to select, control, create, and interact with music.
Minutes ago, the Leap Motion AirSpace Store appeared on the web; those with a Leap Motion Controller can access it from their computers, too. Developers are encouraged to submit their apps and ideas, and they appear to be excited about the possibilities of this promising new app platform, which threatens to free music apps from smartphones and computers, at least partially.
“We are thrilled to be among the first developers releasing apps for Leap Motion, and I believe strongly that, in the future, gesture may dominate human-computer interaction,” emailed Snibbe Studios founder and CEO Scott Snibbe. “It’s what people are calling ‘Natural User Interface,’ because we’re now communicating with the computer the same way that we communicate with other human beings.”
So far, there are about 75 apps in the AirSpace Store. 14 of them are music apps.
Here they are (for Mac and Windows unless otherwise noted), with a video for each, so you can see them in action. Neat:
The first app in our list, which is ordered alphabetically by developer, AirMIDI ($100 with a free trial version) is for musicians only. Your gestures become MIDI commands. If you’re not an electronic musician, or if you don’t want to drop a Benjamin on your first Leap Motion app, read on — there’s plenty for you below.
Like a musical version of Simon Says, Octorhythm ($3) demands that you repeat a bunch of hand gestures in order, with the whole thing set to music.
Sorry, Stefon, the hottest club in the Leap Airspace Store is probably DropChord ($3), a “music-driven score challenge game” that’s as at home in Ibiza as it is on your couch.
This piano ($3) weighs nothing, but can be played anyway, by tapping your fingers in the air. It comes with nine song tutorials, while the “free play” mode seen here lets you play whatever you want:
This app — the only free music app for Leap Motion, so far anyway — includes four musical toys for you to play around with and make some music.
AirBeats ($5) lets you strike zones in space with different gestures, you play drums on multiple sets: drum n’ bass, dubstep, hip hop, techno, and more:
From the same developer as AirBeats, AirHarp ($1) lets you strum a harp represented by colorful, vertical lines, which you can pluck in the air in front of you.
Goodness gracious, this Mac-only app ($2) loads playlists from your iTunes library and lets you control the playback like a DJ would, if that DJ lived in the future, with looping, real-time audio effects, track selection, and more.
This Mac-only music game ($2) turns any of the MP3s on your computer into a bunch of flying notes that you have to hit with your hands, in order to beat your friends’ scores (Beat Bash uses data from The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm, to determine where the notes are).
A descendant of the iPad version, Chordion Conductor ($4, Mac only) puts a bunch of colored vertical bars on your screen, which you can play like a keyboard by pressing your fingers in the air.
Gravilux ($2), based on one of the first popular iOS music apps, is a bunch of stars that you can pinch, punch, and otherwise manipulate with your hands. They dance along to any of your MP3s.
The Mac-only OscilloScoop ($3) lets you move your hand to alter shapes and create sounds.
Another one for the hardcore electronic musician crowd, this app ($3) turns your flailings into MIDI commands to control just about anything related to music on a computer (instruments, effects, etc.).
For the more knowledgeable musician, Geco ($10) offers the powerful possibility of mapping a huge range of gestures to MIDI controls. If you know what that means, you know why you might want it. If you don’t, you should stick with Leap music apps that make sound on their own (i.e. without MIDI).