Knuckles-5 allows drone pilots to keep one hand free
Conventional dual-joystick drone controllers require pilots to use both hands – this can be inconvenient, plus not everyone has two functional hands. That's where the one-handed Knuckles-5 controller is designed to come in.
Created by "an international team of specialists from various fields related to the drone industry," the device is currently in functioning prototype form. Once it reaches production, it could also be utilized in non-drone applications such as gaming.
Knuckles-5 replaces the two traditional joysticks with two trackballs – one is moved by the index finger, while the other is moved by the thumb. Each one controls the drone along two axes of movement. Another two axes are controlled by a thumb-activated mini joystick, while a further two are controlled by an IMU (inertial measurement unit) that detects the direction in which the controller is being tilted.
It all adds up to control over eight axes of movement. A small LCD screen on top of the device displays drone data such as battery charge level.
Additional functionality (more for things like gaming) is made possible via four customizable pushbuttons and three switches – the two trackballs also double as buttons. By assigning different actions to these different controls, it's reportedly possible to control movement along up to 19 axes, or to access as many as 40 button functions.
"Having worked in this field for about seven years, I realized that numerous models of drone controllers do not fully utilize the abilities of the human hand," says Knuckles-5 founder and CEO, Kostiantyn Borysov. "Our team is developing Knuckles-5 as an alternative to a classic two-handed remote controller. Its purpose is to overcome the disadvantages of a two-handed controller and to offer more possibilities and freedom to its users."
Borysov tells us that the controller should be available as of the end of next year, priced at about US$250 to $300. It's demonstrated in the video below, and will make its official debut next month at CES 2021.
Potential buyers might also want to check out the FT Aviator, which takes a different approach to sort of one-handed drone control. The Shift drone additionally featured a one-handed controller, but its Kickstarter campaign was cancelled.