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Researchers from Graz University of Technology in Austria want to change the way we interface with drones, using augmented reality to turn them from complicated flying robots into remote cameras that an untrained user can easily control. Through a HoloLens — Microsoft’s mixed reality head-mounted display — a drone can enable a sort of X-ray vision, allowing you to see straight through walls and making controlling the drone as easy as grabbing a virtual drone and putting it exactly where you want it to be.

HoloLens works by projecting images into your field of vision. It carefully tracks where your head is pointing, and it can overlay a video feed from a drone on the other side of an opaque wall on top of what you’re looking at to make it appear as though the wall is transparent. Depending on what kind of camera the drone is equipped with, it can only see a limited field of view, so if you turn your head to look in a different direction (or move around), the drone will reposition itself to give you the view that you want.

While the drone moves autonomously for most of the looking around, it’s easy to reposition it manually, again taking advantage of the augmented reality of the system. The location of the drone is visible in the HoloLens as a little model, and you simply reach your hand out, grab that model, and move it to where you want it to be, according to spectrum.ieee.org.

The next step here is to reduce the reliance that the system presently has on external help, like tracking and environmental modeling, since those are the biggest restrictions to real-world usefulness at the moment.