Leap into Prezi

August 28, 2013

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Control your Prezis just like Tom Cruise!

Have you watched Tom Cruise controlling his computer with hand motions and gestures in Minority report? Did you think to yourself “probably not in my life time”…..well think again!
The Leap Motion controller allows you to use your PC or Mac without a mouse, and just like Tom you can use hand gestures to perform actions. And YES it works with Prezi……..hello future 😉

As soon as we heard about the new Leap Motion controller we immediately asked the question ‘does this work with Prezi?’. It was difficult to get an answer to that question online but at only $79.99 USD from the Leap website we just had to get one and try it out for ourselves. Here is a quick summary of what we have found so far.
Before we start you might be wondering what the hell this Leap Motion thingy is! Well here’s a clip to help you understand it a bit more:

That was our first response as well. As soon as we got ours through the post we dropped everything (ssshhh don’t tell our customers) to unbox it and spend a few hours playing with it.

How does it work?

The device itself is very simple and also beautiful in it’s design. It has several cameras inside the device that point upwards to create an invisible field. Once your hand passes across and into this field the Leap Motion tracks all of your digits and these movements are transferred onto your computer screen. Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than my explanation but this article wasn’t intended to get to technical at all.

Leap into Prezi

Once you plug in the Leap Motion you’ll be asked to configure it through the orientation system that automatically fires up on first plug in. The intention here is for your hands and the Leap Motion to become accustomed to one another, and also for you to get used to how it works.
Presenting with Prezi
This is the bit where you and everyone around you says………HOLY CRAP THIS IS INCREDIBLE!………..and it really is. The tracking of each finger tip, joints, and hands is frighteningly accurate. Once everyone in the office calmed down a bit we returned back to the initial quest……WILL THIS WORK WITH PREZI?

YES YES YES it does work with Prezi

Leap Motion have a great app store called Airspce which you can go to for games, business tools, experimental apps, and anything Leap related. There is an app on Airspace called Touchless for windows (also a Mac version) that allows you to fully control everything on your laptop. This is the app that we used to control Prezi with and whilst we found it difficult initially there are a few tips below on how best to go about it.

1. Design your Prezi for use with Leap

We opened a few Prezis that we had made in the past and tried to explore them with Leap Motion. Because those Prezis had been designed for use with a mouse there was lots of invisible frames and hidden content that you zoom into. Most of them were also made with a really clear linear flow i.e. they were intended for a presenter to just click the right arrow and follow a set path.
These were hard to explore with the Leap controller. Mainly because it takes a while to perfect your use of the controller, but also because you have to click on things to zoom into them. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a pinch to zoom option like we are all so used to on iPads and smart phones, so finding a bit of content and clicking on it to zoom is tricky in the very busy Prezis we opened at first.
If you want to wow your audience by using the Leap controller in Prezi we’d strongly suggest you redesign your Prezi or start a new one. Space your content out so the layout is clear, and maybe eliminate to many zooms. Step 2 will help as well.

2. Make frames visible and obvious

We love Prezis invisible frames and we always use them in our designs, but when it comes to usingthe Leap controller in Prezi it’s much better to be able to see the frames on screen when in present mode. Making them visible means you can click on them much easier and your Prezi will zoom into the frame to reveal the content.
We also found that circle frames worked best because when we wanted to zoom back out to see the whole canvass we just click outside the circle. This is difficult to do with rectangular frames as they fill your screen.
By making the frames and content much more visible you can navigate your Prezi with ease using Leap Motion. And of course that will help you look more like a superstar presentation guru, instead of some nerd who’s just showing off 😉

3. Use a projector and big screen

When you first use Leap you will no doubt be on a laptop or computer screen, and probably fairly close to that screen as well. That’s exactly what we did on our first go, but the real magic happens when you use a Projector and give yourself some distance. For some reason it just feels more natural and you can definitely start to feel more comfortable controlling your Prezi straight away.
Prezi presentation with Leap Motion
In the above image you can see that we hooked a laptop up to our favorite micro projector the MP410 by 3M and closed our laptop screen down a little, we placed the Leap controller on top of the laptop so the only image we could see was the projected Prezi on the wall. This worked brilliantly and just seemed to give us so much more control over movements. We recommend you quickly move onto using a projector when you get your Leap.

Leap Motion and Prezi – Summary

We set out to answer the question ‘Will Leap Motion work with Prezi?’ and in our opinion the answer is definitely a yes. However as we mentioned above, in order to make it a successful relationship you need to give serious consideration to the design of the Prezi and make it easy to navigate. A lot also depends on the set up of the controller itself and your distance from the screen. Practice makes perfect and we are confident that with more play we’ll be ready to ditch the mouse soon.
So if you want to look as cool (but maybe a lot taller) than Mr Cruise himself you really need to invest in the Leap Motion. If this is the first version of the device then lord only know’s what is in store over the next year for Leap users. We love it 😉
Prezi Master

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