Send in the Drones – Using your flying robot more productively in business


The increasing use of drones by the military has led to increased interest in remote controlled AV’s. 

The AR Drone in your Smartphone

The amazing Parrot AR drone allows a smartphone user to easily control a remote controlled flying camera using a smartphone.  It’s easy to setup and easy to fly.

It’s worth seeing the CES video if you haven’t already:


It seems that the accessibility of a drone of this quality and ease to consumers will lead to use in the private sector.  

The River of Blood

In a January 2012 news article an AV Drone Enthusiast discovered a “River of Blood” using a drone. He was using the drone to survey the course of a local river when he photographed an environmental hazard.

The applications here for law enforcement and of course the media are obvious.  Where else might this be applicable?

Drones for the Enterprise

For the past decade the ability access previously inaccessible underground places using “pipe cameras” has meant more accurate assessment of infrastructure.  These range from simple fibre optics to remote controlled drones.

Now the use of flying drones will mean accessibility to inaccessible places that would have required helicopters or similar.

For inspection and maintenance, the assistance of a flying “friend” may soon be essential.   Because outside areas, roofs, ceiling cavities, yards with vicious dogs and other previously hard to get at places are now quickly accessible, it inspections will be quicker and more effective. 

The use of mobile devices such as iPad to control the drone and record the video delivers many advantages.  These include integration to enterprise applications for logging and analysis.   

The size, shape and manuverability of drones will vary.  The “Hummingbird” surveillance drone for example looks and behaves like a bird in the air.


The drone, built by AeroVironment with funding from DARPA, is able to fly forwards, backwards, and sideways, as well as rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. Not only does the ‘bot resemble its avian inspiration in size (it’s only slightly larger than a hummingbird, with a 6.5-inch wingspan and a weight of 19 grams), it also looks impressively like a hummingbird in flight.

The limited battery life of the current generation of commercial drones limit the use of the devices now, but as the technology improves I think we can expect our skies to be filled with all kinds of flying robots.  Perhaps you’ll be using one soon.



Swivl, the mobile cameraman



Max the health inspector tours the kitchen, pointing out the water damage on the plaster in each corner of the room.  He then points out the water damage on the floor.  As he does this, the camera smoothly follows him.

Max doesn’t need a cameraman to do this for him.  He uses “Swivl”, the automated cameraman.

Swivl is a small robot that can take your iPhone and film you doing various activities.  It seems ideal for creating evidence videos.

It uses a tiny hand-held remote to track the person being filmed.  This control also has buttons for handling tilt.

This is another example of how commonplace “drone” technology will be.  Real-world automated assistants who will assist in recording and surveillance.

Swivl has just been announced at CES 2012.  There is much excitement about the product among vloggers and sportspeople. It was formerly known as the Star accessory and was crowdfunded into existence on IndieGoGo by Satarii and users in early 2011.

They are preording now (costs around $159), so take a look at


The Verge – Swivl Hands On –

Swivl –

Flying Drones –

To mobility and beyond!


Mobile technologies are everywhere. Never have so many batteries been carried around by so many people. The centrepiece of the battery carrying revolution is certainly the smartphone and tablet computers.

These amazing devices bring more computing power to the average person than was available in the entire world only 40 years ago. Consider that your device is connected to most of the computers on the earth by our worldwide communications network, the internet. There are literally billions of devices connected to the internet, most of which are accessible to your device via its software.

The implications of this are astounding.

Marilyn Hacker says “I’m addicted to email, but other than that, there are practical things – being able to buy a book on the internet that you can’t find in your local bookshop. This could be a lifeline if you live further from the sources.”

It’s not just books now. Connected devices give access to almost the entire sum of human knowledge in a fraction of a second. Doug Coupland says that “With Google I’m starting to burn out on knowing the answer to everything. People in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of being clueless.”

Your device is more than an unlimited information source. It can interact with your environment via video, voice, gps and other sensors. This means that you can communicate with your device, information sources and other people in new and interesting ways.

How long have we had these powerful devices? Not long.

There is no "status quo". The pace of technological change continues to advance.

There is a sense that current mobile technologies, although amazing, are only an interim step to something greater.

So what’s the end game? Noone knows, but it’s certainly something that builds upon mobile computing and takes it to a new level.

This blog will act as a commentary on these changes and what these will mean to the individuals and organisations that use mobile technology.

See you there!