Drone Chi

Meditative Movement with a Drone

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Drone Chi is a Tai Chi-inspired human-drone interaction experience.

The experience begins with picking a drone, designed to resemble a flower, from a charging station, designed to resemble a vine. The drone is placed on the ground, takes off, and begins hovering in stillness at waist height.

With the hand pads, when both hands are oriented towards the drone, the drone glows with light. The glow diminishes if the palms point away.

In “lead” mode, the drone slowly flies in a circle. You follow the drone with the hands as the circles grow larger, aiming to keep the light as bright as possible.

In “follow” mode, you now control the drone – but you must do so with slow and focused movements. If you move too quickly, the glow dims, the drone drifts away, and you must recapture it.

Throughout the exercise, movements require coordination and focus. The glow signals the quality of the connection between the hands and the drone.

As a research project, Drone Chi reveals implications for human-drone interaction design and technologies, as well as methodological implications that consolidate elements from product design, experience design, engineering, and a philosophy of somaesthetics.

Ethos + Methodology

Meditative Movement
Product Design Engineering
Research through Design
Somaesthetics
Thematic Analysis

Credits

Joseph La Delfa (Principal)

Leah Heiss
Rohit Ashok Khot
Ben Koder
Emma Luke
Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller
Hazel Ngari
Rakesh Patibanda
Olivia Wichtowski

Bitcraze AB
Monash University
RMIT Unviersity
Qualisys AB

closeup

vine

suit

shirt

longex

Publications + Press

The Washington Post (2021): Fitness Drones Are Coming

Hackster.io (2020): Drone + Tai Chi = Drone Chi

RMIT University News (2020): Using drones to combat the pandemic

RMIT University News (2020): We have lift off: When meditation meets drones

Joseph La Delfa, Mehmet Aydın Baytaş, Nick Huppert, & Ian Peake, Leah Heiss (2020). Using Pose Estimation for Cultivating Subtleties in Human-Drone Interaction. Paper for the NordiCHI ‘20 workshop Programming for Moving Bodies. [PDF]

Joseph La Delfa, Mehmet Aydın Baytaş, Emma Luke, Ben Koder, & Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller (2020). Designing Drone Chi: Unpacking the Thinking and Making of Somaesthetic Human-Drone Interaction. In Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ‘20). [PDF]

Joseph La Delfa, Mehmet Aydın Baytaş, Rakesh Patibanda, Hazel Ngari, Rohit Ashok Khot, & Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller (2020). Drone Chi: Somaesthetic Human-Drone Interaction. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). [Honourable Mention Award]
[PDF]

Joseph La Delfa, Mehmet Aydın Baytaş, Olivia Wichtowski, Rohit Ashok Khot, & Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller (2019). Are Drones Meditative?. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ‘19). [PDF]