Since its launch in May of this year the DJI Spark Drone has become the must have video drone. It may not be the smallest drone on the market but at seven and a half inches from rotor to rotor it’s a highly portable bit of kit. What makes it special of course is its innovative use of gesture control. Launch it from the palm of your hand and it will hover three feet above the ground. Hold the palm of your hand up and the drone will follow it. Wave your hand and the drone will soar to thirty feet. Make a square with your thumb and forefinger and it will take your photo and the new firmware update now allows you to stop and start recording with a wave of your arm.
Gesture control for apps and gaming
The gesture control world of Minority Report is getting closer every day. Nintendo began development of their ground-breaking Wii controller way back in 2001 and since then gesture control has moved slowly but surely into the mainstream. The partypoker mobile app is an interesting example of gesture control being used in a natural and intuitive way rather than just as a gimmicky bolt-on. The poker app enables you to discard cards or place bets with gestures appropriate to the game. This approach is now being echoed by a range of games developers: Horn is a third person adventure game in which all the action is controlled by touch and gesture.
Android apps such as ‘Side Control’ enable you to create a specific gesture for a particular task, likewise, iGest Gesture Launcher enables you to create a gesture and associate it with an action.
Car manufacturers are continuing to experiment and implement gesture control
Major car manufacturers have been exploring the applications of gesture control for some time now and current models of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volvo and Volkswagen all have versions of gesture control. It is much safer to control the volume of music in your car, or switch track by gesture control rather than momentarily taking your eyes off the road to touch a screen. It’s much more convenient, when your arms are full, to open and close the boot of your car with a swipe of your foot.
The potential of gesture control for the physically impaired
The potential applications for the physically impaired are also significant. The Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband allows the user to operate multi-function gesture control which, with the aid of a robotic arm, would enable impaired users to perform previously impossible tasks. In a dangerous environment, gesture control would allow precise control of robotic devices. Windows Kinect which began as whole-body gesture control has been refined to enable hand gesture control.
So what developments are we likely to see next? The Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD) in Rostock, Germany is exploring the application of facial gesture technology, known as EarfieldSensing (EarFS). This is technology which will enable the tracking of blinks, mouth movements and face movement. The world of Bewitched is just a nose twitch away.