In the interconnected age of the Internet of Things, (IoT) personal drones have become the hottest tech gadget around. No longer considered simple toy helicopters, these personal flying machines are proving widely useful to everyone from photographers to delivery services, health professionals and real estate agents.
In July last year, Sony’s Mobile Division announced they would be pursuing Drone technology for opportunities in agriculture, geometry and map imaging. Just a few months before, NASA announced a partnership with the UK for drone-based traffic management, and park rangers in Africa began exploring them to track and protect endangered species. We’ve learnt by now that anything innovative ends up mobile-led, and our phones will be at the heart of this new frontier.
Businesses and organisations have been falling over themselves to develop new and useful ways to utilise drone technology, with mobile devices acting as a remote control, data relay, live-streaming screen, and information processing service all in one. Thanks to drone-producers like Parrot opening up their software to third-party developers, anyone with an idea has been given the framework to make it happen.
An early winner of the drone surge is in aerial photography, allowing photographers of all skill levels to take their Instagram accounts to new heights. Hayden Griffith’s stunning birds-eye photography is a perfect example, with an Instagram page attracting some global giants to request his services.
A graduate student at TU Delft in the Netherlands just developed an ‘Ambulance Drone’ prototype that, when called via mobile, can fly across town to deliver a defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest. With a live-streamed A/V connection it provides real-time feedback to emergency services, and can instruct bystanders how best to respond to an emergency.
There’s no two ways about it, Parrot’s MiniDrones are gosh-darn adorable.
The collection includes the Rolling Spider, a highly-effective drone, capable enough to take powerful videos from above. The more serious line of pro-drones set the industry standard on mobile controls, and the SkyController tablet add-on is a powerful remote tool for guiding your drone beyond what you can see.
Lily is the incredible photography drone giving a behemoth like Go-Pro a run for its money. Connected via a Bluetooth beacon, just throw it in the air to begin filming you like a personal cameraman in the sky, with voice activation and live-streaming to a companion app helping you frame your shot. Though it has a short battery life, it’s redefining how we film our own extreme moments.
In the future, personal drones could become as widely accepted as smartphones, picking up our groceries, watching our homes, and stamping out crime on the fly.
One of the most anticipated developments is in Amazon’s proposed drone delivery service Prime Air, currently awaiting government approval. Imagine seeing an ad for a new product you want, using your mobile to purchase it and tracking its delivery whilst a drone drops it at your front door. In an even more localised use, the NFL has just recently been granted permission to use drones in stadiums, paving the way for popcorn and drinks delivered to your seat, aka the height of leisure (or laziness…).
Drones can offer rapid response to anything from traffic control to security surveillance to advertising. French company EPFL are working on drones to help locate survivors of natural disasters by tracking data packets from their mobiles.
Imagine an exercise drone that can use fitness-app data to fly at your previous speed as a PB?
Or a personalised billboard that recognised your phone and offered you products accordingly? Eventually, drones will become so widely used that phones will be designed around their use, and not the other way round. With current drones sharing a tech base with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Chip systems (seen in the more high-end Android phone systems), the groundwork is being laid for a friendly relationship to benefit everyone.
Because, I mean, who could pass up a fresh, drone-delivered pizza that lands straight on your doorstep just minutes after ordering it from your phone? No more cheese glued to the roof of the box.
The future is now, people.
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