Drone Video Conferencing Could Upturn Industries from Entertainment to Emergency Services

video conferencing through drones

Let’s get straight to it: This is a very cool way to declare your college football commitment.

The only thing missing from four-star QB prospect Emory Jones’ drone declaration of his intention to play for Ohio State was a way for the press to have asked him a few questions about his choice.

And that could have been possible if that drone had carried video conferencing technology.

Tech companies are already starting to combine video conferencing and drone technology, and there are just too many potential applications for this convergence to let it go the way of Google Glass.

Video Conferencing from the Skies

Imagine the star of the next blockbuster action movie conducting a live interview from some mountain top or while be dangled from a helicopter, the images and audio supplied to a drone hovering nearby. Or, imagine the announcement of a new scientific discovery being conducted live from the precarious cave or jungle treetop where it was uncovered.

Video conferencing by drone could also mean press conference by drone, and that opens up all manner of possibilities for some spectacular deliveries of announcements from the fields of sport, entertainment, science, and business.

The applications extend beyond flashy news announcements broadcasts as well.

The technology could be a huge advantage for emergency services, allowing them to remotely fly over disaster areas and communicate with anyone caught up in the chaos.

Also, police could use drones equipped with two-way communication to safely speak face-to-face with perpetrators of hostage or siege situations. They could perhaps even be deployed in secret to communicate with innocent people trapped in such situations.

Further down the line we could see the use of augmented reality technology within this drone world. With that kind of superimposed display and interactive graphics projected onto real-world settings, remote engineers could configure solutions to maintenance and repair problems on site, or forestry officials could map out new paths and safety structures in dense terrain.

Drone video conferencing could, in short, create a way to communicate in person at any location where a drone can go.

And the good news is we’re already at the application stage of drone video chatting because a couple of big name tech companies are currently trialing the technology.

Google’s Drone Ambitions

In August this year, Google’s engineers received patent approval for a remotely operated quadcopter drone fitted with video screens, cameras, and audio equipment.

The patent states the device would be connected to the internet via smartphone, but there’s no detail on how long a battery life the drone would have, or how large its range would be.

And, sadly, the patent focuses mainly on the drone’s potential in an office environment, bragging about navigating corners and corridors rather than dodging air traffic or ascending to the stars.

But Google is heavily involved in drone technology, having purchased manufacturer Titan Aerospace and worked closely on drone testing with the FAA, so there’s plenty of reason to hope they’ll expand their drone video conferencing ambitions in the future.

If they don’t, there are others who are also thinking about how to take video conferencing to the skies.

Vidyo Enters the VC Space Race

Long-time video conferencing innovators Vidyo announced their drone technology intentions at last year’s InfoComm 2015 convention.

Teaming with drone makers Stampede, Vidyo envisions the drone more as a real-time video component to multi-person video chatting than as a way for someone to actually join a meeting. They see the drone merely as a way to get a look at on-ground situations, such as complex maintenance issues and disaster assessment.

That limited outlook seems linked to the weight and cargo restrictions of current drones and, as with Google’s patent, some difficulties with power supply. But those logistical concerns could soon be outdated as the drone industry explodes over the next decade, increasing investment in research and development.

The recent FAA decision to relax drone flight restrictions will result in an influx of intellectual and commercial energy that could create more than 100,000 jobs, and see the industry become an $80 billion concern.

Once that kind of money is being thrown around we’ll soon see all manner of drone/video conferencing hybrids that can deliver some spectacular new ways to communicate.

Subscribe to VC Daily