Introducing: Vimeo Couch Mode

Creatives across the map – indie filmmakers, emerging musicians, dancers, actors, installation artists, and beyond – all flock to Vimeo to forge their personal brands and spread their work around the world. Likewise, savvy culture-mongerers from far and wide visit Vimeo to hunt for the next big thing, or perhaps just to find a 5-minute slice of high-def humanity to punctuate their day.

Vimeo Couch Mode for Leap Motion places the power of Vimeo navigation at your fingertips, so you can “leap into your couch” when it’s time to dim the lights and depart from real life for inspiration. Now you can show off your own videos, browse your News Feed, or sift through your Watch Later list – all with your hands in the air. To celebrate, we’ve assembled an all-star team of Vimeo videos featuring touchless interaction. You can reach into the whole collection right here, right now. Here are just a few:

    

You can access Couch Mode from virtually anywhere on Vimeo – just look for the couch icon in your favorite videos and channels. We’ve highlighted it in red below. Once you see it once, you’ll discover it everywhere on Vimeo.

The screen will go dark. When you place your hands above your Controller, you’ll immediately see your fingers identified as small circles. Tap to play or pause, fast forward with a twirl, and swipe to move on to the next video.

Concerts, street theater, amazing animations – what channels will you reach into? The possibilities are endless.

GIF courtesy of Vimeo Staff Blog

Synesthesia on a Snowy Evening

When Craig Winslow and Justin Kuzma paint interactive digital media directly onto the physical world, your senses feast in unexpected ways. Last fall, they delivered Growth, an immersive forest of trees you could manipulate and command with your hands in the air. Their most recent Leap Motion installation, ZX, went up this February in Vermont, where the team installed the 10-foot geometric structure in a snowy courtyard at Champlain College.

ZX combines projection mapping with Leap Motion technology to explore the boundaries of color and sound in 3D space. A strong tone welcomes you as you hover your hands over the Controller. Bells chime as you wiggle your fingers. The higher you lift your hands, the brighter the color. Reaching your fingers forward makes for richer saturation, while panning your hand left or right adjusts hue. Hues pan left and right in the stereo speakers, so that your hands begin to define the limits of an intangible field of view.

For the sonic side of things, Craig and Justin enlisted the sound design talent of Nicholas Giordani. Inspired by the theremin, Nicholas mapped sounds to gestures, as well as created a harmonic scale controlled by the height of your hand. “Because we aren’t limited by physical interaction, like turning a knob or pressing a button, we have a lot more room for sonic exploration,” he says. “It’s almost like we’re creating a new instrument.”

The finished project makes you feel like you’re conducting an orchestra and a light show simultaneously – a blending of the senses that reflects the experience of synesthesia. At the same time, the combination of light and sound creates a surreal experience, where the interactive space takes on an almost tactile reality.

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ZX’s sound and visual design made the Leap Motion Controller’s interactive space as intuitive as touch. Learn more from the creator on Developer Labs »

For the ZX crew, this first iteration is just the tip of the iceberg. “One of the interests for us in adding a microphone is that we can visualize sound from the user as color as well. Combined with kinetic hand movements as color and sound, we could have someone could sing a note that translates to a color, while creating a harmony with their hands,” Craig told us.

The team is also hoping to take the installation into the education space to teach children about the color spectrum dynamically in 3D, both in large scale settings – museums and exploratoriums – and smaller ones – the classroom and the home.

What do you think about 3D motion control as an exploratory engine for color and sound? Tweet us at @LeapMotion or share your thoughts on Facebook.

Store + Shipping: Always Be Consolidating

We’ve made some changes to how we ship the Leap Motion Controller globally to customers who purchase from our website. As we continue to build the next generation of our software, we want to streamline how we sell and ship our devices so we can be more efficient. At the same time, we want to let you know what’s going on, and share the changes happening on our online store and shipping procedures.

Online Store and Shipping Changes

Shipping and tax charges. We no longer collect estimated taxes, customs duties or other import fees for shipments outside of the United States. As a result, customers outside the U.S. will need to ensure that all applicable taxes and duties in their destination country are paid.

Shipping times and rates. We’re now shipping all of our devices from a single distribution center in California. This means that shipping times will be slightly longer for international customers. However, it also means that shipping costs should go down for many customers.

Fewer currencies. With our new store and shipping platform, we’re now rolling back our online store currency support to the Euro and USD. Customers in regions outside of Europe will now see Controller prices in USD, while Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK are changing to Euros. But don’t worry – the Airspace Store will continue to support the current 14 currencies.

Regional Pricing: Your Questions Answered

One of the biggest questions we hear from customers is – why are the prices different in different countries?

Controllers. We have regional pricing for our devices due to the costs of doing business in foreign countries. Since we’re a US-based company, our prices reflect a variety of conditions in different markets.

Airspace apps. The Airspace Store has used the same exchange rate for the Euro and other global currencies since we launched our global currencies feature. But that leads us to our final update of the day – going forward, we will be updating local app prices on a monthly basis. International pricing will include the base price, plus VAT in European countries. Then it will round up to the nearest nine (e.g. €8.79 instead of €9.99).

As we continue to build our platform, we’ll keep you posted on all the latest developments. We’d love to hear your thoughts about these changes – let us know in the comments.

BT and the Search for New Sound

When Grammy-nominated composer BT was just a kid,  his music teacher told him that nothing new would ever happen in the industry again – that becoming a master involved artfully rehashing the past.

Thankfully, BT rejected this idea early on. While he honed his skills studying the classics, the outpourings of his imagination found inspiration in the everyday sounds most people overlook. The nighttime orchestra of insects. The meter of a grandfather clock. In order to rein the subtle beauty of these sounds into cohesive compositions, he realized he needed tools that didn’t exist… yet.

BT knew that in order to bring the music in his head to life, he needed to place himself at the razor’s edge of digital innovation – he needed to become a technologist.

Over 15 years later, in addition to composing music and recording albums of his own, BT has pushed the limits of musical technology into the records of industry giants – including the likes of Sting, Britney Spears, Peter Gabriel, and Madonna. When he discovered Leap Motion, he knew it was an instant fit. He also knew that he wanted to share his creative spark with the world.

That’s why, along with Dr. Richard Boulanger of the Berklee College of Music, he created MUSE – a brand-new app that gives you the power to create and perform your own ambient music in the air with your hands above the Leap Motion Controller. MUSE lets you reach out and layer complex chord sets, intricate drum grooves, atmospheric sounds, and more using an intuitive cubic interface to transpose in any key.

Have you always fancied yourself a composer? Are you a seasoned musician looking for new inspiration? We want to hear your best tracks. Record your MUSE creations, post on YouTube or Vimeo, and tweet them at @LeapMotion or share them with us on Facebook.

Vimeo at Your Fingertips + 4 More New Apps

This week, ditch the remote and grab the popcorn with Vimeo Couch Mode and Leap Motion interaction – a whole new way to watch high-quality videos. Plus, a fast-paced speed racer that lives in your browser, magical fireflies, an arcade-style dubstep game, and an elegant wooden puzzle.

Vimeo Couch Mode

A world of videos at your fingertips. Now you can watch collections of videos on Vimeo with a wave of your hand. Hit play or pause with a tap of your finger, fast-forward with a finger twirl, or change the video with a swipe. Watch high-definition Staff Picks or your own playlist.

Reach out on the web »

HexGL

Blitz through your browser. Control a high-speed futuristic hovercraft in this free web game. Tight corners, blazing speeds, and booster strips – all built in WebGL. We recommend using Chrome for this game.

Reach out on the web »

Fire Flies

Relax in the serene world of Fireflies. In this magical scene, fireflies are drawn to your colorful fingertips, then change colors and fly away.

Free for Mac and Windows »

DubWars

Don’t just drop the beat – destroy it. DubWars puts the power of dubstep in your hands as you fight waves of flying enemies. Blow them away with lasers and sonic blasts as your weapons fire to the beat.

Download for Windows »

TiltYourBall

Your only opponent is gravity itself. Navigate a small metal ball through various levels in this minimalist puzzle game. TiltYourBall remembers your progress as you play – great for quick, relaxing breaks at work!

Download for Mac »

Watch the LA Fashion District Spring to Life

SKYLINE is a 10-day architecture showcase that stretches across a completely walkable 10 x 10 block grid in downtown LA – where spaces ranging from penthouses to historic banks to hotel lobbies host interactive installations that embody the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

Leap Motion was a natural fit for SKYLINE participant Behnaz Farahi, a designer, architect, and Annenberg Fellow at the USC School of Cinematic Arts whose research investigates the potential of interactive environments in relation to the human body. Her project Breathing Wall brought a large fabric sculpture to life in the heart of the Fashion District during the festival with Leap Motion technology.

The piece encapsulates some of the larger questions about interactive design that Farahi seeks to address with her installations. “How might we envision a genuinely interactive space whose form and physical configuration can respond to and learn from its users?” Farahi asks, “and how might such a space influence how we inhabit our environment, and change the way we live?”  

Farahi’s body of work tackles these questions through investigative kinetic design, her central focus being the relationship between materials, form, and interactive systems of control.

“Mobile devices already use techniques based on touch-and gesture-based languages – swiping, clicking, dragging and so on – as a natural, intuitive mechanism of control,” she says. “But can these techniques be used to control entire environments?”  

For Fahari, the prospect of controlling entire rooms or structures with Leap Motion technology intrigues her the most – the notion that 3D motion control can transform a 2D work of art from a simple narrative into a living choreography of space.

8 New Apps: Outer Space Shooter, Ambient Music, and More

Get ready to play, learn, and create. From arcade-inspired games and alien fishing holes, to Internet time travel and ambient music, the newest apps in Airspace have something for everyone. Plus, three newly available trial apps – so you can try them for free before buying the full versions.

The 4D Finger Tennis

Take your game to the next dimension. Control a futuristic paddle as you battle the computer for tennis supremacy. The 4D Finger Tennis features intuitive controls, rich graphics, and fast gameplay.

Free for Windows »

Galactic Asteroid Fighter

Outer space just got a lot more graphic. Inspired by classic arcade shooters, Galactic Asteroid Fighter throws you into the cockpit of a spaceship – in the middle of a dangerous asteroid field! Destroy the asteroids and watch out for enemy aliens.

Download for Mac and Windows »

aliZen Fishing

This isn’t your grandfather’s fishing hole. Cast your line and reel in alien fish across 4 chapters and more than 50 unique scenes. Collect bait, catch bigger fish, and unlock Zen mode for a relaxing fishing experience.

Download for Mac »

Muse

Create your own ambient music. Reach into a world of interactive cubes that let you compose and perform beautiful ambient sounds – including chords, drums, natural sounds, echo effects, and more. Muse lets you record and save your creations to enjoy whenever you want.

Download for Mac »

Time Travel

Spin through the past, present, and future. Time Travel is an Internet time machine that lives in your browser. Dive into a unique photo browser that lets you explore historical events and see how everything from food to bicycles evolves through time. (To use web apps like Time Travel, be sure to check “Allow Web Apps” in the Leap Motion Control Panel, and use Google Chrome.)

Reach out on the web »

TomBraining The Gallery Trial

Expand your cultural horizons. TomBraining The Gallery is a unique tour through more than 250 classical art and music masterpieces – plus games and puzzles to challenge your knowledge.

Free for Mac and Windows »

AirInput Trial

Take control of your computer. AirInput lets you point and click with ease by placing the cursor in your fingers. With the trial version, you get the full premium experience for a limited time.

Free for Mac and Windows »

Skywriting Alphabets Trial

Discover the joy of writing. The trial version of Skywriting Alphabets lets your child practice their writing skills with random letters at their own pace. Download the full version to unlock three more gameplay modes, and watch your child learn the letters of the alphabet.

Free for Mac and Windows »

How Japan Inspires Great Apps and Musical Experiments

With one of the largest Leap Motion communities on the planet, Japan is an incredible source of 3D interactive creations. A photo hackathon of epic proportions. Three unique web apps. Two Airspace experiments from game designer Eddie Lee. A Leap Motion-driven industrial album and biometric beatboxing. And that’s just scratching the surface!

This week, we’re looking at how Japanese developers and artists have been inspired by 3D interaction. But first, some great news for Japanese Leap Motion lovers. With the Japanese retail launch of the Leap Motion Controller, you can now find our technology in SoftBank BB stores throughout Japan.

But that’s only half of the good news. Leap Motion is becoming more global than ever, so we recently added a new language translations feature to the Airspace Store. In honor of our Japanese launch, we’re introducing the feature with full Japanese support. Want to check it out? Scroll down to the bottom of the Airspace Store and use the dropdown menu. Now, onwards!

3 Web Apps from Japanese Developers

Time Travel

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After winning at last month’s Japan Photo Hack Day, the creators of Time Travel have brought their interactive web app to Airspace. Reach into the past and explore photos of your search topics and interests, and twirl your finger to move time forwards or backwards.

Reach out on the web »

The Nikkei: Japanese Newspaper

The financial world at your fingertips. Featuring high-quality reporting and in-depth analysis, The Nikkei is a Japanese-language newspaper that covers economic and business news. With a subscription to the Nikkei online edition, you can access the latest news and archives at leap.nikkei.com.

Videogram

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Watch and discover your favorite videos. Videogram pulls the best scenes from a video to create summaries in pictures that can be searched and curated. With a wave of your hand, Videogram lets you browse and explore videos as easily as photos.

Reach out on the web »

2 Experimental Games from Eddie Lee

Lotus

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As you saw in our video, Eddie Lee is inspired by music and nature to create fun, playful experiences with the latest technologies. Lotus is a quirky set of interactive musical toys that lets you dynamically create your own cool sounds.

Download free for Mac and Windows »

Kyoto

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Feeling contemplative? Dip into the mysterious and melancholy world of Kyoto. Mind-melting ambient music and beautiful visuals reveal an intuitive puzzle that you play with your hands. Just like the city itself, it’s a magical experience that will never leave you.

Download free for Mac and Windows »

Musical Experiments with Leap Motion Interaction

Tokyo DJ’s Industrial Leap Motion Album

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Launched in October, Tokyo-based industrial artist Aliceffekt’s album Telekinetic was the first known album release created with the Leap Motion Controller. By translating hand movements into retro-futuristic sounds, Aliceffekt created the full 20-minute ambient album with 3D interaction as his main instrument.

Read more »

Humanelectro: Biometric Beatboxing

At a live event in Tokyo called ∑(SIGMA), Ryo Fujimoto created live audio and visuals from electrical sensors hooked to his body, along with the Leap Motion Controller, which tracked his finger positions in real time.

What inspires you to create? We’d love to hear about how you use the Leap Motion Controller to express yourself. Let us hear your story on Twitter @LeapMotion or on Facebook.

Transform Any Surface into a Musical Instrument

Interactive art helps us extract impulses from our brains, thread by thread, and enact them in the world. Music takes this medium into mind-bending heights. What if we were able to transform any surface into a living, breathing musical instrument? Emerging designer and musician Felix Faire recently did just that with Contact, an acoustic Leap Motion experiment created for the Royal Academy’s “Sensing Spaces” exhibition.

As a first-year architecture student, Faire was struck by how listening to musical progressions as you walk through a space affects the way you move, so he designed an entire concert hall and gallery in the linear structure of a sonata. These initial musings grew into a much larger project on spatial music perception entitled “Music Aided Design.” It was then that coding became an integral part of Felix’s creative life, and he knew 3D motion control would become an essential exploratory engine for his thesis. 

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“The fidelity of the Leap Motion made me realize this kind of device could track even more subtle musical articulations, and perhaps even be used as a three-dimensional instrument in itself,” Faire told us. “Now I understand more of what is possible with Leap Motion. I have ambitions to try much more complex gestures and motions in future projects.”

For Contact, Felix used hand height, finger count, and a squeezing gesture to trigger various effects in the loop – the visual output influencing how the audience attempt to interact with the sound waves. “Abstract audiovisual synchronicity, while extremely elusive, can be a very exciting and compelling experience,” Felix concluded.

“Sensing Spaces” will continue to run at the Royal Academy in London through April 6th, 2014. It features architectural practices from six countries spanning four continents. If you plan to attend, be sure to tweet impressions, images, or video from your experience to @LeapMotion using the hashtag #SensingSpaces.

Martini in One Hand, Exploding Rainbow in the Other

We’ve talked about the magic of WebGL before – how it unleashes the power of the web to do incredible things in 3D. With this latest experiment from Bartek Drozdz, you can reach into your browser and play with a variety of cool visuals to music. A liquid gem, cityscape, spherical lines, and more, all responding to Codex Machine’s S.P.Y. or even your own microphone.

As the creative director at Tool of North America, a production company based in Santa Monica, Bartek brings interactive digital experiences to life. Last month, Tool decided to throw a party for its employees and friends in a large building known locally as “the shed.” To bring some WebGL zest to the party, Bartek started working on sound-reactive visuals that would project on a wall – using the huge space to his advantage.

Next, Bartek took it a step further by introducing Leap Motion interaction to the setup. As you can see (and experience) for yourself, the results were spectacular. You can fly and steer between buildings, create strange wave reactions, or change your point of view. Each mode is different, and it can be challenging to discover what they all do. It’s all part of the fun.

“Part of the challenge was that we did not want to put any instructions anywhere, so we had to do something that was intuitive,” says Bartek. “Just let people know that they can hover the device with their hand and see what happens. It made people curious, but was also easy to use. Our guests could interact with the visuals using one hand, and holding a drink in another.”

The web is growing all the time. With these kinds of early experiments, we can catch a glimpse into what the future web might look like – with complex 3D sights and sounds created with little more than JavaScript and the magic of WebGL shaders.

Want to dive into Bartek’s trippy experience of sight and sound? You can check out his live demo on Tool’s website. To use Leap Motion on the web, be sure that you’ve checked the “Allow Web Apps” box in the Leap Motion Control Panel (General tab). As always, we recommend Google Chrome.

What do you imagine we’ll see in the web of the future? Let us know in the comments below, or give us a shout on Facebook and Twitter.

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