Advertisers have found ways to bombard us with promotions no matter what we’re doing: watching TV, checking social media, and even when streaming music. But the future of advertising could be even more invasive when the next public event you attend is full of flying video drones projecting inescapable video everywhere you look.
GIF: NTT Docomo
NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s largest wireless carriers, created this unique flying sphere that’s surrounded by eight curved LED strips that can spin at high speed while it’s flying. (As light and thin as LCD displays have become, they’re still relatively heavy for a battery-powered drone to hoist into the air.) This approach can create what is essentially a flying video screen with minimal weight to improve battery life and flight times. The design also allows the drone’s propellers to be hidden inside, so as not to obstruct images or videos being displayed.
The image resolution on this 89cm-wide prototype is limited to just 144 x 136 pixels — lower resolution than even the Apple Watch’s tiny screen. So if you were hoping one of these drones could follow you around letting you binge on Netflix all day, you won’t have the best experience. But as the technology improves, eventually this flying video drone could reach HD resolutions, and maybe even 4K.
NTT Docomo developed the drone for the upcoming Niconico Chokaigi festival, which celebrates a popular Japanese video sharing site (imagine YouTube having its own version of Coachella) and the telco sees its creation being used at other events like concerts or sporting events as temporary signage, or as part of a larger audio-visual show.
Using overhead floating signs to help direct large crowds of people seems like a generally useful technology, but it’s not hard to imagine NTT Docomo’s cool tech might eventually just turn into flying billboards, reminding you of how much a ‘Share Everything’ plan could be saving you and your family. Go right this way to see your favourite artist… and also ENJOY COCA-COLA!
We’ve seen it happen before, as in the case of New York’s fancy new touchscreen subway maps, or the city’s countless payphones that have been turned into Wi-Fi hotspots. They both provide useful services but also serve as billboards for advertising. It just gets a lot harder to ignore the ads when they’re playing on a flying drone that’s swooping around your head like a pigeon.