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    What's The Next Big Thing?

    By: Steve Knutson
    October 10, 2013

    What’s the next big thing? That’s a question I get a lot, both by those interested in investing and those who just love to play. The answer without the tech speak: Touch-free computing.

    Imagine typing in the air, directing your computer with hand gestures or painting a digital picture with your fingertips. The technology is here. It’s called 3D motion control technology. You can pick up a Leap Motion device for $70 at an electronics store or online and enter into the next generation of computing. 

    The device is just a bit larger than a jump drive and can connect to devices with a USB cable. Leap Motion will release the first PC with a Leap Motion device embedded near the mouse pad this fall. It makes a milestone in the industry and potentially the end of the mouse altogether.

    Going Touch-Free 
    I remember when we controlled computers with switches and what a great invention the mouse was. Now, we’re moving from touch screens to touch free. The touch-screen technology, spurred by the iOS and Windows 8, already has established the technical elements needed to provide a natural migration to touch-free computing.

    This is all part of a technology trend known as the human computing interface. It’s the idea that more and more we’re interacting with computers like we interact with humans. Take the Samsung Galaxy 4. If you’re watching a video and look away, it pauses. Or Google Glass that allows you to record a video of what you’re seeing and share it on social media with the sound of your voice.

    I have said it before, but that’s just the beginning. We’ve gone touch free and now can direct computers with a thought as demonstrated when a paraplegic man moved cursors on a screen by sending neurological signals to a chip implanted in his brain.

    Business Uses
    This 3D motion control technology is expected to be “the next big thing” to shake how we interact with computers. Businesses across industries are leveraging the technology. The applications extend from music and art to science and medicine. Here are just a few examples:

    • Medical Procedures: A surgeon once had to rely on an assistant to retrieve a digital image and manipulate its view during a procedure. Properly placing stents, for an example, requires a high level of precision and surgeons often look to digital images for guidance. Now, surgeons can use simple hand gestures to view what they need while working. The result is faster and more accurate procedures.
    • Field Workers: From mechanics to environmentalists to technicians, field workers now can use their devices without wiping off their hands, dirtying screens or working through plastic.
    • Writing: Reports, emails, blogs or even books can be written with fingers typing in the air. I don’t have a medical degree, but I have to believe that would alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome.

    3D motion control is not just giving us a new way to interact with our devices. It’s setting a new standard. Years from now, a computer mouse may be as foreign to kids as a vinyl record and they may never touch the hard keys on the traditional keyboard.