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February 2014

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Advertising in the Third Dimension

Drones Will Have a Big Impact on Marketing and the Media

The DJI Phantom

by Glen Emerson Morris
The DEVOF7 FPV RTF controller

If you've never been to a Maker Faire, you've probably never experienced co-existing with a room full of flying gadgets. The closest thing to it may be on your newsstand. Recently Make magazine did an issue on drones that makes for some really interesting reading. We're at the beginning of an era, and the sky really is the limit.

Many businesses will eventually own drones, but within a few years, nearly every advertising agency, broadcast station, newspaper and magazine will have at least one drone, and possibly a small fleet of them. These industries will adopt them first.

One of the main reasons drones are taking off now is that a new type of drone has been developed that can do a lot more than earlier drones. Initially, most personal flying devices were a miniature version of a traditional main blade and tail blade helicopter. The problem was that, even scaled down, miniature helicopters are mechanically complex, and not very stable.

A new kind of helicopter has evolved, using four or six blades mounted horizontally, and no tail blade (called quadcopters and hexcopters). To go in a certain direction you just slow the speed of the motor closest to that direction. The result is a helicopter that is very easy to fly and stable enough that it can be used for both still photography and full motion HD video.
The DEVOF7 FPV RTF features a built in video display

The video drones are easy to fly. Control is managed thru a hand held control unit with two multiple axis joysticks. Some control units have a built in video screen that can display a real time video of where the helicopter is going. Most can transmit the video to Android or iPhone devices.

Here are some of the major uses of drones.

Real estate marketing firms will own flocks of drones to provide aerial photographs of homes for sale. It's one thing to say a home is just two block from a beautiful park. It's much better to show an aerial photograph with a spectacular view.

News departments with use video drones to get shots of news events too far, too dangerous or too expensive for manned helicopter video crews to cover. A drone can also provide a wealth of sensory information if it were properly equipped, such as how hot a fire was burning and what dangerous gasses might be in its smoke.

It's only a matter of time before all traffic helicopters are replaced by camera-equipped drones. It will be the end of a way of life for some, but maybe good riddance. Are there any of us who have been in the broadcasting industry more than ten years who can't name a reporter who died in a traffic helicopter crash. I can name several (including a very talented lady I helped train who died on the second week on a new job).
There are third party LED light sets available for the DJI Phantom.

Radio and TV engineering departments will use drones to change burned out bulbs on radio and TV towers. It will sure beat climbing them and replacing the bulbs manually. In time, tower light bulb sockets will be designed to allow bulbs be easily replaced by drones that are included as part of a complete tower system. Drones could even be programmed to detect and replace burned out bulbs automatically.

These days wildlife tourism is big business, and video drones could be a big help finding and photographing rare wildlife. They could even protect us from wildlife.

What may prove to be one of the great eco-system disasters in American history is underway in Florida's everglades. It's estimated that are between 5,000 and 190,000 Burmese pythons, either the pets or the descendents of abandoned pets in the glades. They make cute pets when they're small, but they don't stay small. They can live over 25 years, grow to be 20 feet long, weigh over 200 pounds, and full grown pythons can kill all but the largest alligators. The pythons have killed off nearly all the native mammals in the glades and when they run out of food, which they eventually will, they will move north into densely populated areas. A fleet of inexpensive drones could be used to automatically find, and even kill, any pythons in populated areas. And the drone fleet could be sponsored by local advertisers.

And speaking of wildlife, in a few years we can expect every Boy Scout troop to have at least one commercial grade search and rescue video drone. Eventually, every patrol will have one. It's just a matter of the price coming down. We're already seeing the products on the market.
One of the Phantom packages available from DJI.

A company named DJI makes two lines of drones specifically designed for commercial aerial photography and cinematography. The Phantom line of basic model quadcopters goes for around $1000. The more advanced S800 hexcopter ranges between $4000 and $10,000. The more expensive models offer more stability and faster gimbals. Both models have an airborne duration of about 20 minutes and a range between 300 and 500 meters.

Most of the commercial grade video drones have built in GPS, and a “Come Home” button that will bring the drone home automatically, if all else fails, to within a few feet of the GPS location of the control unit. Some of the drones have a built in camera, like the Phantom series, and some, like the S800, will let a variety of digital cameras be used.

Expect drone prices to drop and flight duration to increase over the next few years. In time, commercial grade drones will cost under $500. Even now, the DJI drones could be cost effective buys for many ad agencies and news departments, and are certainly worth considering now.

For more information on drones, see the drone section of Make magazine at

Glen Emerson Morris was a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law.
He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.

Copyright 1994 - 2011 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved ' keywords: Internet advertising, Internet marketing, business, advertising, Internet, marketing. For more advertising and marketing help, news, resources and information visit our Home Page.

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