Technology

New DJI Spark Drone with Gesture Control

If I say the word ‘drone’ what do you think of?  Military strikes?  You probably don’t imagine owning one yourself but perhaps it won’t be too long before you do because drones are fast becoming the new ‘must have’ gadget.

The new DJI Spark Drone is being marketed in America as ‘a drone for the masses’, though at five hundred dollars for the basic kit that’s probably a little optimistic.  This may be a break through device though because what you get for your five hundred dollars is a taste of the future.

DJI spark drone

The DJI Spark is so small it fits in the palm of your hand.  In fact, you can launch it from your hand.  When you do so it will hover about three feet off the ground and here comes the astonishing part, you can then control its movement with the palm of your hand.  The drone will follow the movement of your hand.  If you wave your hand the drone will rise vertically to a height of about thirty feet.  You can then activate the drone’s video camera by making the sign of a picture frame with your thumbs and forefingers.

This is pretty amazing but it is still technology which is at the novelty stage.  If you are really serious about using this drone to shoot video then you will have to use either the control app on your phone or spend another hundred and fifty dollars on a controller, because at distances of more than ten feet the gesture control is uncertain.

What’s important about this device is that it shows the potential of gesture control in the same way that Pokémon Go showed the potential of AR.  Gesture control is now a familiar phone application.  The ‘Side Control’ app has been around a while now: it enables you to set up a dedicated gesture for a specific task.  ‘Air Call-Accept’ enables you to answer or refuse calls with gesture and the partypoker mobile app enables on-line players to use hand gestures that they would deploy in a real-life poker game, to flick cards or place bets.

Initially gesture control meant that you could turn a light on and off with a wave of a hand, a single sensor response.  What we are moving towards now are devices which can read and respond to a whole vocabulary of gestures.  Google have long been interested in the application of gesture control in the development of Google Cars.  PSA Peugeot Citroen have developed a ‘time of flight’ camera which can achieve ‘precise recognition of finger movement’.

Clearly the development of gesture control is also closely linked to the development of AR and VR.  So, this little drone is far from being just a novelty toy.  This device may well go down in history as the device which planted the potential of gesture control in the public imagination.