Mobile Apps and Personal Drones

Drones have been in the news rather a lot recently.  Between the FBI’s recent confession that it’s used drones domestically, to the Colorado town’s impending vote on a city ordinance that seeks to reward residents for shooting them down with small arms, it seems like you can’t open a newsfeed anymore without getting a daily dose of drones.

Of course, when we read “drone,” we specifically think of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone, seeing all from above and raining down death and mayhem in the form of a Hellfire missile.  But drones come in all shapes and sizes, drones that use crowdsourcing to rescue stranded mountaineers, for instance, or drones that help investigative journalists, or with disaster relief, and so on.  We’ve got one on Mars right now.  And in fact, for a pretty reasonable price, you can own one yourself, one you can operate from your very own smartphone.

Consider, for example, the Brookstone Rover and Rover 2.0, miniature treaded tanks equipped with cameras that allow the pilot to control them from up to two hundred feet away without maintaining line of sight.  If you’re not content to stay on the ground and have a bit more money to spend, the Parrot AR Drone gives you up to an hour of flight time, has two cameras, and even makes sure it’s not damaged when the pilot runs it into walls.  If you’d rather go underwater and can wait a while, the Ziphius will let you explore the ocean depths, or your own backyard swimming pool.

Of course, until the FAA decides to allow drones for commercial use, we probably won’t be seeing the tacocopter, but we’re not just mentioning drones because they’re cool, but rather because the union of mobile apps with other forms of technology is perhaps one of the most exciting things going on in the mobile tech industry.  Any developer with an idea that can unite the power of the smartphone, the innovation of the mobile app, and some other, everyday device (remote control cars, ultrasound devices, breathalyzers, thermostats, etc.) has a very bright future indeed.

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