By Steven Melendez
In a live-streamed talk for this year’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, magician Marco Tempest demonstrated a flock of drones that responded to his spoken and gestured commands, forming a ring around him and even following his orders to insert themselves into a box.
Tempest, the head of New York’s Magic Lab and a magician who frequently works with digital technology, might be an illusionist, but the drones were completely real. The illusion was in their behavior, he revealed: The drones were preprogrammed to follow coded routes, guided in part by lines on a carpet below Tempest, and didn’t pay any attention to what Tempest was doing. Their seeming obedience and collaboration was just the result of each device’s individual program.