Orientation to leaping

Getting Orientation.exe to stop crashing

After getting started with my Leap Motion controller, I had stopped at the point where the Orientation.exe app was crashing. A few days later, I was ready to try again.

Checking for prerequisites

First step: reconfirm prerequisites. As of May 19, 2013, the minimum system requirements were:

  • Windows® 7 or 8 or Mac® OS X 10.7 – Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit) with SP1
  • AMD Phenom™ II or Intel® Core™ i3, i5, i7 processor
  • 2 GB RAM – I have more than 8gb
  • USB 2.0 port – check
  • Internet connection – check

No problems there.

Next I looked in the Airspace Control Panel for software updates, and found one which said it fixed startup issues with Orientation.exe. But still no luck. I checked the support forum and troubleshooting guides and didn’t find anything useful. At this point (on July 29), I set my Leap Motion controller aside to work on other things.

First leap, take two

Absent any replies to my support email requests and twitter pings, I revived my investigation this past weekend (August 4) by considering possible unstated prerequisites. One that came to mind was the “.NET 4.0” that Cut The Rope apparently needs. Maybe Orientation.exe and other apps need it too?

Using Aaron Stebner’s .NET verifier, I confirmed that my prior . NET 4.5 installation did provide a functional version of .NET 4.0 ( both Client and Full).

Next I re-checked for updates (none found), and scanned the troubleshooting pages. Here I found a new Support entry from August 2 on “How to update your graphics driver“. Aha! (Should have thought of that.)

Rather than following their instructions to the letter and trying to figure out exactly which NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M driver I should manually download, I used the Windows “Update Driver” function. That worked beautifully (after about 20 min on a bandwidth-constrained connection). All I had to do after installation was reset the driver configuration to 1280×800 (listed as the minimum by many Leap Motion apps) and full width.

Getting Oriented!

Now Orientation.exe ran beautifully. I actually didn’t expect it to, so I still had my laptop on mute! I grabbed a pair of headphones to plug in and restarted it. It was way too loud at 50% headphone volume level – I reduced it to 15% and went through the app once. (Mute would have been fine. Orientation has no audio or aural instructions, and I found the music kind of annoying – more distracting than inspiring. YMMV.)

In ‘where it sees’ of Orientation, I noticed that the colors of the visualization changed towards orange or red when I made quicker moves – that was cool, and promising.

In ‘what it sees’, I quickly figured out how to get it to recognize both of my hands, and most of the time, all of my fingers. But some simple gestures that I expected to work well didn’t – e.g. gradually closing a thumb and finger into a pinch, or bringing a left finger and right finger together. In both cases, the two fingers would ‘disappear’ soon before the tips actually touched. I have not yet gotten this to work, but will keep experimenting with it.

‘How to draw’ was a good introduction to apps that use depth for ‘touching’ and ‘lifting’ from a surface. I definitely need more runtime on this too, but will probably just experiment with Corel® Painter® Freestyle™ app from now on. Trying to draw something of any complexity in Orientation, only to have the first parts erased, got to be a bit frustrating.

Who’s training who?

My techie husband saw me doing these Orientation experiments and got curious. One of his first questions was, “Are you training it, or is it training you?” It’s a great question. He shares my interest in understanding how well user interface technologies adapt to people, not vice versa. In the long run, technologies that require careful user training are not likely to ‘stick’ or be productive for sporadic use scenarios. (Key architectural quality attributes: learnability, memorability, and operability!) But for purposes of exploring a first version of a new UI technology, I don’t mind being trained a bit.

More adventures to follow …

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