In the past year, virtual reality (VR) technology has made inroads into the drone industry with a number of new consumer drones such as EHang’s Ghost Drone 2.0 already sporting VR in their spec sheets. Although the technology has become more affordable over the years, the use of VR in drones have largely been limited to camera control only.
Drones with VR cameras also have specific hardware such as proprietary VR goggles that were not designed to work with anything else other than the drones they were designed for. Such proprietary approach means the use of VR in drones is still limited and relatively costly.
One company — Dream Flights VR, hopes to change all that with a smartphone app that may be the answer in bringing VR to the masses.
What’s so exciting about the Dream Flights app is the fact that it can be used with existing drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 without the need to purchase any expensive hardware such as VR goggles. Best of all, it costs only $50 to purchase. A demo/simulator version of the app is also available for free.
Unlike VR in drones such as the Ghost Drone 2.0 and FLYBi which only allow VR control on their cameras, Dream Flights provides complete flight and camera control with VR. All you need to do is install the Dream Flights app on your smartphone (make sure it has a gyroscope for VR to work properly) and place it in a pair of VR goggles such as the Google VR cardboard, Carl Zeiss VR or Samsung Gear VR and you’re in business. The app also has a brand new way of presenting flight parameters on the display so you don’t need to remove your VR goggles to look at a separate radio control.
Dream Flights has a brand new way of presenting flight parameters on the VR display so you don’t need to remove your VR goggles to look at a separate radio control.
Piloting your drone, however, requires some practice but once you’re familiar with how the system works, it can be very rewarding. Flight control is accomplished by simply tilting and turning your body and head, giving you the virtual experience of flying like a bird.
To make the experience even more engaging, the app features real-time 3D video through the use of a special algorithm that delays video frames for one eye relative to the other, creating the illusion of 3D using a standard single lens camera. Besides 3D effects, Dream Flights also includes sounds of rushing wind delivered via headphones to simulate the feeling of speed and movement.
The Dream Flights app is currently available for Android and can be downloaded here.
At the moment, there is no word yet on a version for iOS nor has Dream Flights announced any plans to develop the app for platforms other than DJI. Being an app, we reckon it wouldn’t be too hard for the company to adapt it to other drones should its initial version end up a success. With Dream Flights, truly affordable and immersive VR flying is finally here for the masses.