“The Drone Age” Is Changing the Way We View the World

By: Mel Quist

Time Magazine recently released an extensive special report on “the drone age” and the life and culture-altering effects this emerging technology will have on everything from aerial surveillance to front-door package deliveries. What used to be considered part of the military’s arsenal in remote conflict zones around the word is now being flown in your next-door neighbor’s backyard, albeit in much different forms and circumstances. It’s an eye-opening look at how rapidly aerial technology is advancing for commercial and personal use. I was impressed by their in-depth reporting and the quality of this piece, so I thought I would share it on our blog.

After reading the series of reports, I was curious how we got to this point in do-it-yourself compact drones. After all, consumer drones are a relatively new technology, and although we hear about them in the media, they are hardly a household item. It turns out the concept of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), their official name, has been around for over a century and this year is the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. military’s first UAV, which acted as a cruise missile in combat. It was called the Kettering Bug and was pretty primitive by today’s standards, consisting of 12-foot cardboard and paper-mache wings running off a 40-horsepower Ford engine.

Over the years, the military has been the primary driver in the development of drone applications, and the consumer technology we know today has only been around for a few years. It was actually Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 2013 announcement that the company was exploring drones for package delivery that spurred the tremendous innovation and growth that we’re experiencing today.

According to Time, roughly 3 million drones were sold worldwide in 2017, and more than 1 million drones are registered for use in the U.S through the Federal Aviation Administration – a requirement for most store-bought drones. These numbers will most likely increase significantly in 2018 as drones become more mainstream. For those unfamiliar, consumer drones are similar to a remote-controlled airplane. They offer incredible maneuverability and use technology like GPS, Wi-Fi, and obstacle-avoidance sensors to access remote locations and capture footage that would not be possible through traditional tools such as helicopters.

The drone business is heavily dominated by China, as Time reports 72% of the global market is controlled by a company called DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen (the Silicon Valley of China). ABI Research is expecting the industry will surpass $8.4 billion by 2019. Although, perhaps unsurprising, most of the investment and experimentation is being led by American innovators. In addition to Amazon developing drones that could deliver packages in a matter of minutes, Facebook is testing drones that can beam internet connectivity to isolated areas of the world. There are also countless startups focusing solely on the technological possibilities of an emerging platform, including Skycatch, which creates aerial maps, and Skydio, which makes video recordings that automatically track a subject.

Although the possibilities are almost limitless, and we will surely benefit from them like we have with other technology in the past, there are some concerns regarding enforceability. Privacy advocates worry about aerial surveillance and the U.S. military is exploring ways to prevent drones from becoming a new weapon for terrorism. As the technology becomes ubiquitous, there are also challenges with adding more traffic to an already crowded airspace. Time says NASA is studying ways to safely integrate drones with the already chaotic air traffic. Commercial pilots are reporting about 100 too-close encounters per month in the U.S.

So now that we have some background on the emergence of drones and their new uses, I want to focus on how the technology is changing the way we think about marketing. Drones were front and center in the marketing for this piece. Time partnered with Intel’s Drone Light Show team, Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems, and L.A. Drones to create the first-ever aerial magazine cover using 958 drones that displayed the exact shades of red to make the iconic Time Magazine outline. They say it was one of the biggest drone shows ever produced in the U.S. and a news reporter interviewed a local resident witnessing the show who said, “Up in the sky, I saw the future.” It’s outside of the box ideas like this that pique interest and would have been impossible to create even five years ago.

At Venture6, we specialize in visual storytelling and produce a wide range of corporate and how-to videos. Our clients often seek our services to tell their story, boost brand perception, and simplify complex concepts through visuals. Drones have completely changed the ways we are able to do this by giving us the tools to show new perspectives that would otherwise go unnoticed. From building interiors to landscapes to rooftop views, aerials captured with drones add distinction and depth that holds attention – even when paired with tedious subject matter. I was particularly interested in Stephanie Zacharek’s piece in the series about Hollywood’s use of drones and their cost-effectiveness that does not jeopardize quality.

As a writer, it’s exciting to have another visual tool at my discretion when I’m working on content for videos and other visuals used for ads and websites. It’s always easy to think of far-fetched ideas when writing for a project, but I always keep in mind that we’re often limited with what we are able to capture. Drones give us more flexibility, and I think their quality and creative spirit complements the message in ways that words or traditional footage alone could never do.

If you’re interested in making a video using drone technology, I encourage you to take a look at some of the samples on our website and contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project. And be sure to read the Time special report The Drone Age here.

Image Source: Time

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