A group of Taiwanese researchers developed a coding algorithm called Dong that allows for gestural control of drones, light switches, and other technology via the Apple Watch. In a demonstration video filmed by Reuters, a civil engineering student named Mark Ven flies a Parrot AR Drone using only hand gestures.
Ven developed Dong along with a team of engineers at National Chung Hsing University, where he is earning his PhD. The team calls itself PVD+ and aims to bring simplicity and beauty to technology, according to its website.
Flying the drone with hand gestures looks deceptively easy, like playing a theremin or using The Force.
“Previously we’ve needed complicated controls to fly drones, but now we can use a wearable device, and through human behavior and gestures directly interact with them—using a hand to control and fly drones directly,” Ven told Reuters.
Ven’s gestures to control the drone have drawn comparisons to the Force, and it seems like Ven is as much a fan of the new Star Wars film as his viewers: He says he has also used the PVD+ software to control a BB-8 droid. “We can also control a ball, like that in Star Wars‘ BB-8 droid, using a wearable device as well,” Ven told Reuters.
The algorithm could make drone flights safer, as it allows a drone pilot to keep their eye on the aircraft rather than glancing back and forth between it and the controller. However, the technology isn’t perfected yet—Reuters reports that the wind and other environmental conditions can affect the gestural controls.
PVD+ is currently applying for a patent for the Dong software.