Leaping into Windows 7

Next adventure after Painting by Leaping: the Touchless app for Windows – can I wave at my laptop to scroll and click instead of using a mouse?

I found a developer video (based on v0.7.3) illustrating Visualizer and other functions on Windows 8, and another video which seemed to show using Touchless instead of keyboard and mouse on Windows 8. Great, but I have Windows 7.

One thing that perplexed me after installing my Leap Motion software was the appearance of a new “Flicks” system tray item. Microsoft’s “What are flicks?” article says flicks are for a pen or finger only. It seemed logical though that the ‘flicks’ conventions for navigation (e.g. upward flick to scroll down) would apply to the Leap Motion controller.

Today (August 8) I launched the Control Panel to try out the Visualizer and was prompted to download another update. I did so, then tried launching Touchless from Airspace. It threw up the User Account Control dialog, I granted permissions, then – nothing. It just stopped. I saw one brief popup from the system tray about a smudge and needing to clean the window of the controller. I did that, but still no dice.

Restarted just for fun and relaunched Airspace and the Touchless app. No apparent change – nothing happened when I moved my hands over the sensor. This time I looked for hidden system tray icons, and found a new one. It didn’t actually say “Touchless” – it just said “Interaction”. “Open Help Guide” launched IE8 (my default browser for corporate reasons) with the tutorial. It doesn’t run well in IE though. Switching to Chrome let me see the tutorial. Back in the system tray icon, I looked under the Interaction submenu and saw that it was “Disabled”. I changed it to “Basic” and now I was able to see fingers on screen. Yay!

One immediate observation: the mapping of gestures to monitor only works on the primary monitor – no obvious way to navigate or control apps on the second monitor that I use when my laptop is in its dock.

Next I tried practicing scrolls and clicks and zooms on the tutorial page in Chrome. Clicking in the vertical scroll bar worked. The scroll and zoom gestures didn’t. Tried a Word document and had trouble scrolling in that, although a light overlay of a mouse kept showing on screen. I had some luck “clicking” the mouse buttons, but that’s not really what the sensor is good for! The keyboard icon popped up sporadically too – it wasn’t clear what I was doing with my gestures to trigger it. I opened a PDF (saved earlier from the PC Magazine article “10 Best Apps for the Leap Motion Controller“) and had similar results trying to navigate in Reader.

I revisited the Support Forum at this point to look for clues. I found one topic on what to do if the error “Touch Emulation Driver Corrupt or missing” appeared. Well, I wasn’t seeing that error, but touch emulation certainly wasn’t right. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try the advice – manually installing MultiTouch from the Leap Motion directory. After a User Account Control dialog, I got a dialog for about 15 seconds saying “Installing, this could take a few minutes…” When it finished, I switched back to Reader, and now two-finger zooming worked. Yay!

All in all, some progress and some frustrations. I tend to work with multiple apps and windows open at once, and I frequently made accidental clicks on other windows on the screen. I clearly need practice – and will look for more crowd-sourced tips before I try it again.

For fun, I tried turning ‘flicks’ off from the system tray. It didn’t seem to affect behavior at all.

Next stop: world travel with Leap Motion and Google Earth (the 11th item listed in the PC Magazine article).

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