After much deliberation (as in, years) I recently purchased a DJI drone.
I love cool tech toys and I thought I could use it to take some cool aerial shots while on vacation in France -- which I did.
Initially I was quite careful about using it. I’d fly it up, take a few pictures and fly it right back down. But then a funny thing happened -- the more I flew it, the more I realized it wasn’t really complicated. So after having really put it through its paces while on a boy’s trip last weekend to a cabin on a desolate lake, I arrived at a few observations:
- These things are REALLY cool from an engineering perspective. There is just an incredible amount of technology built into these devices on both the hardware and software side. They are VERY impressively built and DJI has a solid first-mover advantage in the consumer marketplace. This was evidenced in part by GoPro’s initial failing/recall around their first drone. While they’re getting their fair share of attention, if these drones were built by, say Apple or Google, more people would be going absolutely gaga over them.
- With the price point dropping so sharply in such a relatively short lifecycle, it’s a strong sign that the market is starting to approach some degree of critical mass. Once the price drops a bit more -and it will-you’ll see adoption really rise. This will pose a series of separate “social” issues that will bubble up. Imagine a sky full of drones. I mean that almost literally; we could soon approach a point where that’s a reality. There are sundry privacy and security issues associated with this. The implications here, particularly from a security standpoint, are potentially huge.
- It will take photography to a new level, no pun intended. We’re accustomed to linear photography. Aerial stills and videos are an entirely new frontier of opportunity on a number of different levels. One of the things that made GoPro stand out in my viewpoint, was that it enabled anyone to quickly become an “action” oriented director/cameraman. Drones will take this to an entirely new level. Forget cameraman, now everyone can be their own James Cameron.
- You can start to really see the business use cases: aerial surveillance for construction, farming industries (along with other markets), delivery of goods, as outlined by Amazon, and even sport (see: Drone Racing League, which seems to be really taking off). Those are just the use-cases that come to mind immediately. I’m not even talking about how they relate to surveillance from a defense industry standpoint.
I think on both the consumer and professional side this is still a very nascent market that is rife with opportunity. Even if it doesn’t seem like flying a drone is your “thing,” check one out if you have an opportunity. Not necessarily to buy, but just to gain some measure of familiarity with the technology and how they operate. Because in my opinion, there’s no question: they ARE the future and will play a prominent role in our technology and cultural landscape for many years to come.