The Leap Motion was released in July 2013. Initial tests in school with pupils are ongoing. We have had some success with pupils and the Leap certainly has some place as an access device for pupils, it is certainly a motivating device for practising fine motor skills and engaging pupils with MLD. Above is a picture of the device (it's tiny) and what the device 'sees' i.e. a virtual hand.

Return to the Gesture Based Technology Homepage .

Apps Page : Click here for Leap Motion apps and interactive websites that are suitable for SLD pupils.

Here's a quick example of the Leap in action with Sensory Light Box- a free download for Windows or Mac from the great www.senteacher.org and Simon Evans. See the Apps Page for further info on this and other Leap programs.

Using the Leap Motion for Pupils with SLD and PMLD in Special Schools.

This site looks at using the Leap Motion device with special needs pupils, mainly those with Severe Learning Disabilities (SLD) and Permanent and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). It runs alongside an ongoing Gesture Based Technology Professional Learning Community- the main site and further information can be found here with links to our sites dealing with iPads, Kinect and Eyegaze technology.

What is the Leap Motion?

The Leap Motion is a small, USB sized device that works like a mini-kinect to track movements of the fingers. It's 'working area' is an invisible cube about a metre across above the device and it will pick up fine hand and finger movements- these can then be converted instantly to effects on the screen- so causing visual and audio effects.

What can it do?

Well- it turns finger/ hand movement into an input to the computer- no other skills are needed. In terms of gesture based technology provision the Kinect is useful for large gross motor body movements- such as arms and legs but not so good for smaller movements. Some of our pupils with limited movement will hopefully find this an important enabling tool.

In our setting it is being used as a device for pupils with limited physical movement to enable them to interact with a screen. This interaction could be:
Sensory- exploration and cause and effect or contingency awareness work.
Emerging Communication- using it for choice making (although pupil does need good fine motor control for this).
Independence and Engagement- Enabling pupils to do motivating things independently that they couldn't do before such as play music, games or paint.
You can also stick it to the front of an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset so you can see your hands! More to come on this.

How do I get one?

Order one from www.leapmotion.com or if your school allows it try Amazon, Argos or Maplins. They are currently around £60, which isn't much at all. When you have it go to www.leapmotion.com to install the software that runs the device, this only takes a few moments. There is an improved version 2 of the software out for download now (November 2014) with even better hand tracking.

What programs can be used with it.

The Leap has an 'app' store called Airspace. It is similar to iTunes and you can purchase, download and play programs made specifically for the Leap Motion. There are a couple of free ones there and the others don't cost too much- a few pounds each. There are also web apps that are becoming available as well.

Go to our Apps Page to search through the Leap apps available that are suitable for SEN pupils.

School Case Studies

Currently we are using it with two pupils with very complex needs and Multi-Sensory Impairments:

One teenage boy with a very good sense of humour and a wide smile also has a severe visual impairment and is a wheelchair user working at around a P3 level. He also tends to bite and chew whatever he has in his hands (which makes gesture technology a good choice). This pupil loves interaction, sounds and music so alongside the iPad we are using the Leap with apps like Airharp, Drum Air and Musical Me Motion to enable him to make sounds himself. He has had a few sessions with it and is beginning to make the link between his movements and the music made. The Leap is blu-taked onto the front of his tray angled at 45 degrees and as it is quite discreet- although he has found it a few times now. The Leap is attached to a iMac with sound coming through whiteboard speakers.

The other pupil is working at a similar level and loves to self-stimulate by making noises and flapping his hands and objects repeatedly. He will happily do this all day and so he is really hard to engage in anything else. He will focus on human interaction and switch/iPad cause and effect activities for very brief periods but requires constant prompts and can get a little stressed after too many repeated attempts at interaction, especially with objects. He really enjoys the Beamz player and will interact by moving his head in and out of the beams for longer periods of time. We are trying the Leap- flat on his tray- with both visual and sound apps. Luckily as he flaps the Leap detects this motion and creates an effect- which he has noticed and stilled to notice at times. It's usually a case of waiting for him to make a hand movement over the Leap and then watching if he notices the sounds- which he usually does.