In need of a holiday gift for the person who already has a drone?
The coolest drone accessory you never knew you needed this season is Yuneec Aviation’s Wizard.
The creators seemingly took the functionality of a traditional RC transmitter, simplified it (dropped the joysticks), and dressed it up as a Wiimote.
All too frequently, the concept of flying a drone with the two joysticks has users simultaneously doing something of the essence of patting their heads and rubbing their stomachs — and consequently crashing into a tree.
Yuneec’s Wizard, made exclusively for its Typhoon drone, puts controlling the drone into a single-handed remote.
This serves two major purposes: follow-me and a new feature Yuneec is calling “Point-To-Fly.”
Follow-Me: Follow-me functionality is not new to drones, including competitor drones the DJI Phantom and 3D Robotics Iris. But those involve either having the drone follow your RC transmitter, which can be clunky and awkward to have on you, or your smart phone, which you may not necessarily want to have in your pocket as you’re surfing or plummeting down the ski slopes. The Wizard seamlessly connects via wireless to the drone, and literally seamlessly connects to a shirt collar or pocket. It’s lightweight and is easily stored in a water-resistant carrying strap (though Yuneec U.S. CEO Shan Phillips tells me it’s not 100% waterproof…it can handle a pocket on a surfboard but probably wouldn’t survive your entire swim across the Bay to Alcatraz.
Phillips gave me a demo of The Wizard during a fly-day in Sonoma, Calif., where he mounted the Wizard to his shirt pocket and hopped on a bike. (See 1:35 minute mark on video below). Because the drone is following the Wizard, the footage is incredibly smooth and remains at the same distance throughout his entire ride. Trying to manually control would make it hard to gauge a consistent distance from Phillips and inevitably end up with video that jolts. See it yourself, below:
Point-To-Fly: This is the feature I’m most excited about. Basically, you point the remote where you want the drone to fly and it goes right there. It’s the most I’ve ever felt like Hermione Granger in my life. But it’s not just a cool party trick (though it totally is). The Point-To-Fly allows for smooth, stable video. The speed is consistent, and it allows for smoother turns. It allowed me to get that dizzying shot at the 0:25 mark on the video above, twirling above the grape vines. That would be much harder to maneuver when controlled by joysticks.
The Wizard is a neat little accessory. If you’re on a budget, it’s definitely not necessary, but for someone looking to spruce up their drone gear collection, this should top the list. It not only can take your video to the next level, but also add a new dimension to your flying.
Not to mention, it’s beautifully packaged, a la any Apple product. The design of the Wizard is simplistic and easy to use, and so is the packaging it comes in. The Wizard is easy to use right out of the box with minimal cords or complications after just charging it via USB.
For just $199, The Wizard is a fantastic little stocking stuffer — hopefully it will be in mine.