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AutoTrader.com Creates First Automotive Leap Motion App

  • First automotive application of Leap Motion
  • Allows users to browse a virtual vehicle using hand motions
  • Explores emerging technology

Using a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen to browse may soon become a thing of the past. A new device called the Leap Motion Controller instead creates a “3-D interaction zone” in front of the computer’s display, allowing users to interface with the machine using hand and finger gestures. Anxious to see how the cutting-edge technology might help car shoppers, AutoTrader.com created the first automotive app using Leap Motion. Users can browse both the interior and exterior of a virtual vehicle using the gesture-based controller.

The app includes 30 all-new or significantly updated 2013 and 2014 models. Instead of choosing a vehicle to explore with a click of the mouse or by touching the screen, users simply point to the vehicle they’d like to select.

Users then choose either an exterior or interior view, and move a hand left, right, up or down to pan around the vehicle. Other gestures allow further functionality. Making a fist stops the panning, so users can point to an information bubble that highlights a specific feature. Holding both hands up in a 10-and-2 position — like a driver might hold a steering wheel — returns the interior view to straight ahead.

Nick Park, AutoTrader.com’s director of product innovation, explained that the purpose of the app is to provide users with a more realistic online look at a vehicle.

“This is our first exploration of gesture technology to help facilitate the car shopping process, and we see it as an exciting emerging opportunity,” Park said. “This app starts to explore an immersive online experience that more closely replicates the live experience someone would have in a dealer showroom, and we look forward to hearing what consumers think.”

It may seem far out, but we’ve already seen automakers exploring gesture-based interfaces for in-car navigation and infotainment technology. So far, applications in production vehicles are limited to simple, single-task uses such as swiping a hand to open an interior compartment. But use of more complex, gesture-based interfaces in concept vehicles suggests that further uses may be coming soon to production vehicles. For now, though, Leap Motion users can at least explore select vehicles with gestures using the AutoTrader.com app.

What it means to you: Leap Motion users can now use a new AutoTrader.com app to explore cars virtually without touching a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen.

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