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Innovation Part 1: Drones

Profile image for Ross Coombes

At this year's Attention Summit, innovation played a large part in the agenda for the delegates. Myself and our back-end developer Mark hosted a seminar where we displayed all the exciting technology available in the digital industries. 

The purpose of our session was largely just to encourage delegates to think a little differently and explore ideas.  Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Seth Godin have all talked about collecting and connecting dots but a simple analogy has always stayed with me.

Innovation doesn’t just appear magically out of nothing, it comes from taking something real (a dot) and mixing it up with other things, other ideas to create something new, a twist, an enhancement, an evolution.

The work that you do, the experience you have, the skills you hone and the people you know make you one big super awesome dot.  More importantly, all of those things make your dot unique.

So, with one dot covered, all you need now is to collect more dots.  Inevitably at some point, you will connect these dots together in a way that is only probable because you are you.

How do you collect more dots?  Simple.  Read, learn, explore and play.

The Innovation Lab at last month’s Attention Summit was the first time we introduced an exploration session of this kind it was such a success and we had so much fun doing it that it’s already booked its place for next year - whoop!

Our Innovation Lab covered 4 main areas but we didn’t have enough time, space or budget to fully encapsulate the breadth of innovations in the world so I’ve put together a 4 part blog to explore it properly.

Part 1: Drones

Part 2: Autonomous Vehicles

Part 3: Virtual Reality

Part 4: 3D Printing

 

Let’s start things off with Part 1: Drones

 

Part 1: Drones

On the day, we brought with us a Parrot Bebop Drone 2, not the most expensive or intelligent drone on the market but a very good option as a starter drone for anyone interested.  On a recent trip to Snowdon, we took the brave (stupid) step to fly “her” from the summit and over a lake half way down and we were able to capture some stunning video which we shared on the day.

Drones are clearly already cool by themselves, but to give ours a little extra spark, we decided to play with Google’s Speech API and turned her into a voice-controlled drone.  Given the space and the fact that we were indoors, we minimised the voice commands to simply “Say Hello” for take-off and “Sit down” for landing.  But now that we’ve brought the Parrot back to Adido HQ we already have aspirations of taking this further.  

Perhaps a victory lap of the office when we tell it we’ve won a cool project?

Could we get her to fetch a beer on request from the Adido fridge on a Friday afternoon?

There are drones now that can automatically follow you and ones that can avoid obstacles at the same time, planning their own safe paths, some can even fly through trees at 30mph.  But if you want to be both educated and amazed, I can recommend two TED talks from Rafaello D’Andrea.

The first shows how advanced the control algorithms are these days, demonstrating drones balancing objects and even throwing and catching a ball.

The second shows the different configurations of drones, ranging from a symmetrical 8 propellor drone that can fly at any orientation down to a drone that has just one single moving part.  The end sequence of this TED talk doesn’t just stimulate a glimpse into a potentially scary future but somehow it’s beautiful too.

For me that get’s the creative juices flowing.  Mini drones and cube shaped drones that can change their orientation - is anyone else thinking about flying versions of the microbots from Big Hero 6?

Turns out scientists in Switzerland have already made that leap and are currently working on self-assembling vehicles that can take flight.

Who knows, one day your summer holiday might start with the arrival of the Google self-driving car coming to collect you.  As it comes to a stop, the boot opens and releases a swarm of tiny flying micro-drones that form themselves into a hovering luggage trolley by your front door.  When you’ve finished loading your bags, they kindly carry it back to the car.

That’s all very futuristic and lovely but you want to make an impact on the here and now so how can drones can be used today, as a marketing tool.  As we learnt from Heather Andrew in her talk “Brain response in the digital world”, if you want attention that is memorable, you need to strike an emotional chord.

A cute example of this is a video produced by funnyhowflowersdothat.co.uk that created the Cupid Drone to spread a little love in Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet.

Coca-cola also did a beautiful job of plucking the heartstrings with their campaign to bring a can of coke to Singapore builders forced to live and work away from their families.

Both use the surprise element of a drone to capture the initial attention which whilst in 2016 that would continue to work, that’s a shelf life that’s already closing in fast.

The other main use for drones in marketing is that they can provide a perspective of video simply unachievable by previous methods.  For example, ever wondered what fireworks look like from inside the show?  If you’ve ever recorded a fireworks display from the ground, prepare to realise just how unimpressive your attempt was.

But these days, marketing is about story telling, drones were used extensively in the making of this eery but stunning capture of an abandoned city near Chernobyl.

And a bit closer to home for us, a week after the Attention Summit, a drone was being used to tell the news story of a landslide on Bournemouth East Cliff.

Have a think about what story you would like to tell and whether a drone could provide a unique and engaging way of telling it.  

When you’re done…. perhaps you’d like to read Part 2 of this series - Autonomous Vehicles.

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