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Taiwanese researchers use Apple Watch to fly gesture-controlled drones Olixar

Taiwanese researchers at PVD+ have successfully demonstrated the use of an Apple Watch to fly drones with hand gestures similar to The Force technology used to control balls like the BB-8 Droid in the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

Mark Ven, the founder and project lead at PVD+ teamed up with research professor at the National Chung Hsing University and three other members and devised a software called Dong coding.

The software comprises algorithm that helps pilot drones and control lights, using hand gestures, which are transmitted via an Apple Watch that acts as a remote control. The algorithm is a result of 18 months of research by the PVD+ team, and it is designed to work on any wearable with the ability to control directions of the drone.

The Apple Watch interprets hand gestures or signals and then relays them to the drone. The software can also be used to control flight directions of a ball like the Star Wars' BB-8 Droid, besides using gestures to switch lights on/off or change colours, using a wearable device.

"When I clap twice the light turns on, as it detects that I'm clapping. When I write an English 'R' in the air the red light turns on, and when I write an English 'Y' the yellow light turns on. Lastly, when I clap twice the light turns off," Ven said, according to Reuters.

"During this process we are communicating and interacting on the Human Computer Interface by using the internet of things, and the wearable device," he added.

With the technology still in the nascent stage, it seems like there is a major effect on it from external environmental factors like wind. Besides, the battery-life needs to improve as it currently drains out within 20 minutes of usage.

"The drone's performance was great, although the environment provided a bit of a challenge - the airflow made it harder to control. I think we could consider it good if we exclude the environmental factors," said another Hsiuping University student, Wu Jia-hsin.

The PVD+ team is applying for a patent for its Dong software via Taiwan's Li & Cai Intellectual Property Office. Meanwhile, check out this demo video depicting the Apple Watch controlled flying drone, Parrot AR Drone 3.0 in action.