16 November 2017

REVIEW: Gesturebotics Aura Gesture-controlled Drone

A handy drone. Arf!

At the beginning of the year, while perusing the goodies at the London Toy Fair, we were given a demonstration of a small drone that you control with a special glove. No traditional controller; just a glove with motion sensors that lets you take off, fly around, and them land. Well, despite it looking like something a Jedi would use to hone their Force powers, you can now actually buy it. We test the Gesturebotics AuraGesture-controlled drone.

First, the finished product looks a lot different than the prototype you can briefly see in the vlog we made about the Toy Fair. There is no rolling safety cage, and the whole thing is smaller and more compact, going for a fairly standard guard over the blaeds instead. This we prefer, as the Gesturebotics Aura seems pretty robust and firm – something a plastic toy quadcopter like this needs to be. Coz you might crash it, yo.

In the box is the quad itself, which measure about 12 CM across, putting it firmly in the micro quad category. There is also a stretchy glove which we were very happy to see can fit both a child's and an adult's hand, and the controller unit that straps onto your hand over the glove. Apart from the likes of spare rotor blades, you can get a USB charging cable for juicing up both the quad and the controller.

However, whereas the prototype glove controller was very much a glove with wires and electrical components, the glove in the Gesturebotics Aura is actually just a bit a show item. You don't have to wear it at all to fly the drone, as the controller can just slip over your hand without issue. The material adds a certain cool look, but after a couple of goes we stopped bothering to put it on. Fortunately the controller features Velcro-fastening straps, so it can be quickly strapped on and off.

Right, flying it. Once paired to the drone (simply switch both units on and wait) you tap a button on the controller and the Gesturebotics Aura drone will take off. The quad features auto-hover, so will automatically take itself to about three feet and stay there. This it did very well, and we found that despite being controlled by an unconventional controller, it stayed put while hovering.

After that, all you need to is tilt your hand steadily in one way or the other to move it. Movements of just a few millimetres is all you need to get it moving, and once we had a nice and gentle practice run, we found it was far more stable and easier to control than the Motion Control Drone we previously reviewed from MenKind. What helps is that the controller unit on your hand has lights on it, making easier to keep an eye on at the edge of your peripheral vision. You can therefore both feel and see if it is level, helping you to level and control the drone. Once we got the hang of it, it really is fun to fly.

That flight will last about seven minutes on a full charge, which is about average for a quad of this size. The controller will last longer between uses, but a charge time of about an hour or so seemed to top the drone up nicely.

When you're back up and flying once more you can try some tricks. Using a button on the controller that is near to your thumb, you can get the drone to flip. Press it down and then flick your hand in a certain direction, and the quad will perform a 3650 flip that way. Again, once you get the knack of it, it's quite impressive, especially if you can flip the drone while moving to make the whole thing less static-looking. Master it, and it really does look cool.

What isn't so cool is the price. £99 for this is a tad steep, especially when compared to the aforementioned MenKind quad which is less than £40. As the quad is limited in both range and speed, there isn't a massive amount you can do with it, and we would say that this is definitely an indoor toy only – the brief venture outside we took made us feel quite nervous when a breeze took it one way, and we didn't have the power in the gesture controller to bring back to us. Fortunately it hit a tree. Phew.

If you have the cash to flash (or can find it cheaper somewhere) we would say go for it. If you're looking for a fun novelty for you or the kids, and want something for a few minutes of distraction about the house, it's great.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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