Every week a new drone is announced and although most of them look alike (at least to my untrained eye) a clear trend seems to emerge: they are getting easier and easier to interact with.
DJI has announced, and it is ready for order, SPARK, the smallest drone in their product line, at a price just below 500$, 499$ of course. What picked my interest is the possibility of controlling it by gesture, making it a very simple drone to interact with.
As you can see by watching the clip you can hold Spark on the palm of your hand, press a button on its belly with your finger to activate it and wait for a second to let it recognise your face. Then you can gently move your hand up signalling the drone it is time to take off.
It will keep looking at you and will watch your hand to take orders. Wave your hand left and it will fly left, move it upwards and it will rise further high…. Make the gesture to come back and it will fly back to land on your palm. Pretty neat.
Of course, you can control it more accurately and make it fly away from you using your cell phone as a remote (it can communicate via radio link or by creating a WiFi hot spot if it has to fly in your vicinity). You can also see what its camera is seeing by using Google goggles for an immersive, on board experience.
The possibility of having a seamless gesture interaction brings this drone into the area of symbiotic autonomous systems -SAS- (although we are quite far from controlling it with our brainwaves…), an area that FDC as started to promote with its SAS Initiative.
Spark has, it is now becoming a standard feature for drones, an autonomous obstacle avoidance systems. I would expect that by the end of the decade we will have drones that can fly inside a home. Just imagine using a drone to take a look around over the furniture when you are searching for something. Well, I know, it looks crazy but we are already doing everyday plenty of things that would have seemed crazy just few years ago.
I am using my smartphones to take measures, to look under a bed for a lost coin, to track my son position, to check if a line on the wall is level for nailing some frames, to read the fine lines on a document, to open the room door at some hotels. Yes sometimes I still use it to make a call, but that’s marginal.