New & Reviewed

Spotlight on: Flick HAT for Raspberry Pi

DIYODE Magazine

Issue 5, November 2017

There seems to be no end to the Sci-Fi TV shows and movies that show 3D images which the viewer can interact with, simply by using hand gestures in the air to rotate or move the image in 3D space. Well, we’re not entirely there yet (at least, not outside of a substantial virtual reality facility), but the Flick HAT does allow gesturing in 3D space, and more!

The Flick HAT arrived in a nice simple box that contained the HAT, nylon mounting/securing hardware, an info card, and some stickers. It mounts easily on top of your Raspberry Pi, which helps to keep everything tidy, although depending on your particular project, you may prefer to mount it via ribbon cable instead, as this enables your Raspberry Pi to be separated from the “gesture area”. The software is readily downloaded and easily installed with the documentation, making the set up all fairly straight forward.

As you would expect using the Flick HAT is a snack. Simply swipe (east to west, west to east, north to south, south to north), tap, or double tap on the surface. You can also use the airwheel gesture by moving your finger in a circular motion in the air, clockwise or anti-clockwise. By making a clockwise or counter-clockwise circular gesture, it simulates turning a tuning or volume knob on your Hi-Fi equipment.

The documentation suggests that you can gesture up to 15cm above the HAT. While this is true, we found the accuracy of the detection mechanisms weren’t quite as good for advanced gestures. This is part human and part machine at fault. The human element comes into play because the further you are from something, the more difficult it is to make an accurate gesture (at least, when it’s a small one).

What is clear about the Flick HAT is that it works really well, in the capacity which it’s meant to. The talk of 15cm “airspace” makes us think of more mid-air gestures, when the reality isn’t quite like that. If you’re looking for XBOX Kinect-style functionality, this is not the right choice for you. However, if you want an interface more akin to an advanced trackpad that doesn’t actually require surface-touch for all actions, then it’s brilliant!

You can easily run the included Flick Demo utility to see how the gesture values are provided from the Flick HAT, to make implementation into your projects a breeze, and without requiring any hardware other than the HAT and the Pi. It really couldn’t be any easier to get installed and running, ready to provide input to your most creative project yet!

Flick HAT and accessories available at Altronics