First Leap

Some notes from my “first leap” – getting started with my new Leap Motion device:

Resources

Before jumping in, I read through the FAQs, legal terms, a tutorial on using it on Windows, and some ergonomic hints on the website, as well as the customary Twitter, Google+, and Facebook links. My overall impression was of a professional organization that has thought carefully about its users – an encouraging start.

Installation

Their startup web page auto-detected my operating system correctly, and the software download (about 57 mb) was fast, under a minute (kudos to whoever at Leap Motion planned for scalability of their web portal). Installation of “Leap Motion software and Airspace” was simple, was properly signed with a security certificate, and didn’t require any special permissions (more kudos on all counts).

I plugged its USB cable into my laptop (Windows 7 64-bit Enterprise). After a firmware update and quick installation of device drivers, it was ready to use. So far, the road looked smooth and fast.

Startup

Their “Welcome” app launched after installation finished. Here I hit a glitch after viewing the “Orientation” hints and repositioning my LeapMotion sensor in front of my keyboard as they indicated: I clicked “Continue”, and Orientation.exe promptly crashed (see image). But the crash appeared harmless, and their software continued introducing me to “Airspace”, their app store (iTunes equivalent).

The next speed bump was registering for an Airspace account. I tried to register and leave birthdate blank, but registration failed. This was annoying – I’ll readily acknowledge that I’m WAY over both 18 and 21, so I’m annoyed by spurious requests for the month and day (fodder for identity thieves). I took away a few kudo points for privacy concerns, and continued. Then when I re-tried the registration with a birthdate, I found the page had wiped out the password I’d already entered and I had to put it in again (twice). Grr. But moving on … I made it to the Airspace Home page.

Five app buttons loaded on the page, and then another browser window popped up in front of it. I knew from reading the Leap Motion blog that way more than 5 apps were available, so I wondered if the home page didn’t fully load.

The popup window indicated that the fifth app, “Cut the Rope” (a game), has dependencies I didn’t yet have installed: Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, and Microsoft XNA Framework 4.0. This puzzled me a bit because I already have .NET 4.5 installed. Shouldn’t the Leap Motion framework and “Cut the Rope” be upward compatible with v4.5?

Being a software hacker (the good kind), I did a bit of poking around at this point. The dependency installation page pointed to C:\Users\[myID]\AppData\Local\AirspaceApps\CuttheRope\Dependencies\README.html, so I took a look in C:\Users\[myID]\AppData\Local\AirspaceApps\. It contained only 3 folders: CuttheRope, Lotus, and Shimsham. (I guess the “Airspace Store” and “Orientation” don’t need folders.) CuttheRope contained an .EXE, some sub-folders, and LeapCSharp.NET4.0.dll. (So I’m guessing maybe it’s not just CuttheRope that is going to have these dependencies.) Its “Dependencies” sub-folder contained installers (one .MSI, one .EXE) for both installations. Kudos for the self-containment, but this didn’t fully offset the jolt of the dependency interruption.

My two cents: Seeing the first home page display get stuck on such dependencies is annoying and weighs down the up-til-now pretty lightweight installation process. Components required by the pre-installed LM apps should be automatically installed along with the Leap software and Airspace”.

I decided to ignore “Cut the Rope” and its dependencies, and try to run one of the 4 visible apps that did appear to load.

Airspace: The Leap Motion app store

Clicking the Airspace Store app button just took me to their website, https://airspace.leapmotion.com/, carrying with it my account information. I explored my profile a bit and found just Username (already populated), Email (already populated), and Payment Type (blank). Hmm. This left me wondering how many apps useful for my investigation would be free or reasonably priced. Of the Top Picks in the store, only a few (including Cut The Rope) appeared to be free, with most priced between $1.99 and $4.99. I’ll be further exploring the “free apps” category link.

Google Earth looked promising, and was included by PC Magazine in their “10 Best Apps for the Leap Motion Controller“. But the link almost completely failed to load in IE8 (all I got were the 3 tumblr links). It loaded much better in Firefox, so I plan to do most of my further app explorations there instead of IE.

Stuck at Orientation

Orientation.exe again crashed, this time with Problem Signature:

Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: BEX
Application Name: Orientation.exe
Application Version: 0.0.0.0
Application Timestamp: 51ea9edd
Fault Module Name: StackHash_0a9e
Fault Module Version: 0.0.0.0
Fault Module Timestamp: 00000000
Exception Offset: 00000000
Exception Code: c0000005
Exception Data: 00000008
OS Version: 6.1.7601.2.1.0.256.4
Locale ID: 1033
Additional Information 1: 0a9e
Additional Information 2: 0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789
Additional Information 3: 0a9e
Additional Information 4: 0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789

Read our privacy statement online:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=104288&clcid=0x0409

If the online privacy statement is not available, please read our privacy statement offline:
C:\Windows\system32\en-US\erofflps.txt

I tried using “Check online for a solution”, to no apparent avail. I also tried searching Airspace for the Orientation app, but the only match was Corel Painter Freestyle (which is free, so I expect I’ll give it a try).

At this point, I unplugged the USB from my laptop to get ready to go to a meeting. Almost immediately, I got a system tray popup that said “Smudge detected. Your Leap Motion Controller may function better if you clean the window.”. Um, no, that’s not the problem 😉

Troubleshooting

After my meeting, I did a little investigation in the Leap Motion control panel before ending my experiments for the afternoon. First I checked the Software Log looking for insights on the Orientation.exe crash, and found at the end of the log:

[15:00:16] [Info] Leap Motion Controller disconnected: LP81576857099
[15:00:24] [Warning] Smudge detected. Your Leap Motion Controller may function better if you clean the window.

So the disconnection was detected correctly, but the message was overridden by a spurious smudge detection – a minor adjustment might be needed in that part of the software.

I didn’t find any clues to the Orientation crash in the remainder of the log, or in the FAQ. I’m going to inquire with Leap Motion support before installing anything further.

I did find a few perplexing log entries, such as “[12:21:05] [Warning] The device has entered ‘Robust Mode’ to compensate for lighting conditions.” and many more messages about the device going into and out of “robust mode”. That probably reflects the fact that I sit and move around between a big window and my keyboard & LM sensor. I may need to adjust my window blinds to darken my space a bit.

I also had one log message “[Info] Reversed tracking orientation”. By default, the Tracking tab of the control panel has “Auto Orient Tracking” checked by default, so moving the device during setup probably explains it.

I may run those two dependency installations to see if it fixes the Orientation.exe crash. And I expect to try out a potentially useful “Diagnostic Visualizer” I found in the Leap Motion control panel.

Then I want to see how well it lets me navigate Windows (via the free Touchless for Windows app).

Running Windows post-installation for a day, without the Leap Motion sensor plugged-in, is a bit “off”. Two observations so far:

  • My mouse seemed to be moving and snapping relative to an unseen grid (wouldn’t move diagonally). Unchecking the option to launch the tray item at startup and rebooting seemed to solve this.
  • I need to be able to use vertical scroll bars with my mouse or touchpad while reading or showing PDF files in a meeting. My Adobe Reader is now stuck in ‘touch’ mode every time I open a new PDF file (no scroll bars, just a ‘hand’). Attempts to change the touch mode setting in Adobe Reader don’t persist. The multi-touch driver that was installed with Airspace appears to be stickier. I will definitely be looking for a solution to this.

More on my further adventures in future blog entries

Leap Motion and the Leap Motion logo are the trademarks of Leap Motion, Inc. and are used here by permission.

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