Drones have become a fixture of our modern lives. From taking pictures and delivering packages to monitoring crops and spraying pesticides, drones can perform various tasks. However, there’s one space where drones haven’t yet made their marks yet and that is healthcare.
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Researchers say that the recreational drone market — valued at $2.33 billion in 2020, according to data from Research and Markets — could come together with the $30 billion wearables market to produce what may one day be a fixture in personal health and wellness: fitness drones, reports Washington Post.
In 2012, Jaggobot, created by the Exertion Games Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne, became one of the earliest examples of the potential application of a drone in the fitness industry. The Joggobot was designed to fly about 10 feet from a visual marker located on a jogger’s T-shirt.
In a recent development, students at Hongik University in South Korea, unveiled their Traverse drone concept in 2020. The project which hasn’t yet been built, is intended to serve as a personal trainer for recreational runners.
A wearable, called Pod, accompanies the Traverse drone. The drone uses the Pod, which sits around your neck, as a tracking tag, while the Pod itself works as your personal coach, giving you audio feedback to improve your form and performance.
The Traverse drone is accompanied by the Pod, a wearable that sits around your neck. The drone uses the wearable as a tracking tag, while the Pod itself works as your personal coach, giving you audio feedback to improve your form and performance. A simple button-based interface on the Pod lets you toggle between various functions without having to look at your smartphone screen. After you are finished with your workout, the drone sends detailed stats to the companion app on your smartphone.
The Exertion Games Lab believes it has come up with a prime example: meditative drones that can be used for “Drone Chi,” a 21st-century answer to the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi, the Washington Post report said.
Researchers used a small micro-drone, complete with a faux flower. Using motion capture technology, they were able to tie the movements of the drone to hand movement, allowing participants to practice the slow and smooth hand movements that characterize tai chi. The lab has already created prototypes of these micro-drones and used them successfully in experiments.
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“We found that it has something meditative about it,” said Florian “Floyd” Mueller, director of the Exertion Games Lab, now at Monash University in Melbourne. “There’s this rubber band relationship. If I move one way, it moves a bit further, or if I move back, it speeds up. You can’t be abrupt. You need to be smooth. There’s a value to that.”
“It could be a complementary companion in the future,” he said. “If you don’t have a sibling or dog to go jogging with, maybe a quadcopter is the next best thing.”