The new Leap Motion device lets your devices "see" ten-finger motions in real-time 3-D. I see no published patent application yet, but the device is described on the website.

Microsoft has applied for a patent to use this kind of data to wave your hands and invoke software magic: US patent application 2012/0275686. This includes the use of wands in claim 20 and incantations in claim 5.

"Good Case": Say Microsoft has been busy making sure this device works seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, phones, and tablets on a plug & play basis, shouldn't they be rewarded for their efforts?

"Bad Case": Say Microsoft still has nothing better in mind than use with the XBox 360 Kinect. Should they be allowed to prevent third party developers from integrating the Leap Motion device with Android Phones and iPads?

Reality may be somewhere in the middle. The Leap Motion device enables new ways to interact with our devices. What should it take to pass the "obviousness" hurdle when an O/S adapts to a newly invented device?

  • From claim 1 "an image data receiving engine configured to receive 3-D spatial image data associated with at least one arm motion of an actor based on free-form movements of at least one hand of the actor, based on natural gesture motions;" - I do not see any particular connection between this and any specific input device. It does not require resolution down to individual fingers or have any other limitation as to the way the 3D image data is initially captured. It appears to be about comparing movements to stored models to figure out what the person is trying to describe with their gestures.
    – George White
    Jan 17, 2013 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


Putting my comment in the form of answers to the three sentences with question marks:

shouldn't they be rewarded for their efforts.?

Yes and presumably they would be in increased sales and use by customers.

should they be allowed to prevent . . . ?

I'm not sure the basis of the should. Legally a patent owner can try to stop anyone from practicing the what is covered by a claim. In this case the patent is for a high-level interpretation of received arm and hand motion data. It is device independent. So it couldn't be used to stop all uses of any specific device.

what should the hurdle of obviousness be ?

Obviousness is not generally special-cased. Although maybe one way to think about it in this context is to differentiate between devices that provide new capabilities and those that do not. Some newly invented devices truly need correspondingly newly invented OS functions.

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