Drones Meet Virtual Reality – Experience It For Yourself.

powerup fpv virtual reality dronesWhat do you get when you combine the simplicity of a paper plane with the technology of a drone? PowerUp Toys has partnered with Parrot to combine the two into a remote controlled paper drone, the PowerUp FPV. It is fully equipped with an engine, a camera and a wi-fi hotspot. Another bonus? Users will be able to experience the flight firsthand by using Google’s new virtual reality accessory, Google Cardboard. This seamless integration of basic materials, like paper and cardboard, with advanced as well as easily accessible technology has created a product that is intriguing and exciting.

Thanks to the many advancements of smartphone technology, video quality will not be sacrificed, which is often the case with drone footage. Drones available on the market typically fall into two categories. The first is dependent on analog signals to control the drone and stream footage. While the advantage is the ability to travel far distances, the quality of the footage is often sacrificed. Other drones can be controlled via the user’s smartphone, but these are typically unable to travel far distances and usually do not come with a camera.The wi-fi hotspot allows users to live stream footage from the fully rotating camera to their smartphones. The footage can then be uploaded to popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo for sharing.

The combination of PowerUp’s paper plane design with Parrot’s drone technology will create a drone that not only goes far, but provides the user with a high quality virtual reality experience. The product is not available on the market yet, but PowerUp is launching a Kickstarter in November to make it a reality. For more information on the PowerUpFPV and the Kickstarter campaign, check out PowerUp’s website. Be sure to contribute if you want to part-take in this fun.

For more updates, check out GeekTime and Wired. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Exploring New Trends in the Business World

Global Business EconomyIn the world of constantly evolving technology and new start-up businesses popping up everywhere, change is inevitable. Businesses are catching on to new trends that appeal to both the business owners and the clients. Giving back to the community is becoming a trend in itself.

One example of this is the sharing economy platform, also known as the peer economy. In the sharing economy, owners rent out something that they are not using, such as a house or a car to a stranger using these peer-to-peer services. These companies typically have a rating or review system so that people on both sides of the transaction can trust the other. With the popularity of these services, many people are realizing that they don’t need to buy when they can rent from others and save money along the way. Some examples of these companies are sites like Airbnb and RelayRides.

Another new trend that businesses are catching onto that benefits both the company and the client is to become a benefit corporation. These new corporations are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on workers, community, and the environment. Benefit corporations represent a new breed of businesses that harness their power and resources for public good. They are committed to making a profound social difference for both people and the planet. These corporations hold transparency to a very high standard and are required to make available to the public an annual benefit report that assesses their overall social and environmental performance.

Some examples of existing benefit corporations are Etsy, Patagonia, and The Honest Company.

New App Helps You Communicate Abroad

bravolol foreign language app logoIf you have traveled abroad extensively, for business or pleasure, you are probably all too aware of the fact that communication, or lack thereof, can cause a slew of problems. From genuine safety concerns to wandering aimlessly in foreign streets to ordering incorrectly at a restaurant, the language barrier can be a traveler’s headache. Thick guidebooks and language dictionaries are becoming things of the past as books are becoming increasingly obsolete due to the advent of the smartphone, tablets, and the omnipresence of the internet. In a recent article, Stephanie Rosenebloom from the New York Times outlines a few of the best language applications you can use on your smartphone that can be a true lifesaver abroad.

A cost-friendly alternative to these nettlesome books, Bravolol offers different language applications for a number of different languages including, but not limited to, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and many more. Each app features common phrases and words that you are bound encounter and use while traveling in the respective country free of charge. Another free feature of Bravolol is the romance section. Here, you can learn phrases such as “Would you like a drink?” and other things you may hear during a night on the town. The app allows the user to favorite certain phrases and subsequently displays them in an easily accessible favorites category.

Bravolol stands out from its competitors for two reasons. First, is its user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing design. The application displays the categories on plain white background with a colorful and easily identifiable buttons for the various categories. Ease of use for such an application is imperative because it is going to be most useful when you are roaming the streets of a foreign city, and not when you are lounging on your hotel room bed. It also allows you to increase the font size so you do not have to waste precious time repeatedly putting on your glasses.

Furthermore, Bravolol is tremendously useful for anyone on a foreign excursion as it pronounces the words and phrases aloud. This eliminates all guesswork regarding the pronunciation of these words. However, if you still find yourself butchering these phrases, simply let whomever you are trying to communicate with listen to the Bravolol app.

If you are looking for additional features such as weather, numbers, or directions, you are going to have to shell out $4.99 for the paid version of Bravolol.

Rosenbloom also considers Google Translate to be one of her favorite apps while traveling abroad. With Google Translate, you can learn new words by snapping a picture of a word or phrase you see. The app can scan the image and almost instantaneously provide you with the correct translation. This feature can prove to be quite useful when rushing through the airport or looking for a desired restaurant.

You can also speak into the app. Google Translate will translate what you just said and play it back for you in your requested language. How cool is that! On the flip-side, if you are having trouble communicating with a waiter or clerk, simply hold the phone up to reveal what they are saying.

Finding Your Drone

There are plenty of options available in the drone market. As new companies continue to hop on board, the market for drones is only going to grow and options will be plentiful. While some consumers may be hesitant to hand over hundreds of dollars for a quality drone, you can currently find a select few quality drones for less than a few hundred dollars. Some of the cheaper options are as follows:

EYE One Xtreme Aerial Photography Set by RC Logger – $279

Ben Sheehy Denver CO EYE One Xtreme Aerial Photography Set by RC LoggerOne of the cheapest available drones is the EYE One Xtreme. The basic model offers a standard HD camera with 720p HD video resolution and 5 megapixels for still images. Another great feature of the EYE One Xtreme is its distinct flight modes – beginner, sport, and advanced. With a 2.4 GHz transmitter, the drone offers a range of 400 feet and approximately 7 minutes of flight time.

QR Ladybird V2 – $220

ben sheehy denver colorado QR Ladybird V2If you are looking to purchase a drone that is easy to use and built for beginners, then the Ladybird is built for you. What it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in user ability and style. For starters, the Ladybird is a flying lady bug – it was built to look like a lady bug, and it was built for maneuverability. The Ladybird includes a 200 MP video camera that can stream live video, though it does not record.

Quanum Nova – $319

ben sheehy denver colorado Quanum NovaThe Quanum Nova, also known as the Cheerson CX-20, has gained a lot of popularity as a customizable quadcopter. While the drone does not include a camera, users have the option to buy and install their own. A major plus of this product is the ability to connect the camera to the integrated gimbal control, which allows you to adjust the tilt and roll functions, giving you a multitude of video angles. GPS capabilities are another exciting feature on this model, enabling position and altitude hold, waypoint navigation, and return-home functionality. The Cheerson CX-20 has a range of approximately 300 meters and around 15 minutes of flight time.

Proposed Commercial Drone Rules From FAA

ben sheehy federal aviation administration commercial drones denver coIt seemed to be only a matter of time before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stepped in and introduced limits on drones, as they have continued to grow in popularity. After all, there is a real potential for issues moving forward as drone technology continues to advance. A day may come when we see drones flying above just as frequently as birds.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration submitted its proposed rules for smaller commercial drones. While many of the rules are to be expected, some may impede the commercial delivery ambitions of major companies such as Amazon.

Key rules applying to drones weighing fewer than 55 pounds:

  • Pilots must be at least 17 years old.
  • Pilots must pass a test to obtain the newly developed drone operator license, which will also require vetting by the TSA.
  • License will apply to all small drones.
  • Review tests will be required every 24 months.
  • Flights must occur during daytime hours.
  • Pilot must see the drone at all times, though a 2nd operator may be utilized as an observer.
  • Drones can fly no faster than 100mph and must remain below 500 feet.
  • Drones must be registered with the FAA.
  • No flights over people and you must maintain visibility.

Amazon’s delivery drones will not be possible under these proposed regulations, however, the rules are not finalized. More rules and adjustments are being considered for different types of drones as well.

FAA Press Release for small unmanned aircraft.

Beautiful Drone Videos

As a proud owner and pilot of a quadcopter, I enjoy spending time searching for aerial drone footage via various online video platforms. No matter how many videos I come across, I am always amazed by the views we are now able to capture because of these incredible personal devices. It goes without saying, but we are so used to viewing the world from one perspective, we often forget the other ways in which we can view everything. Not only is the footage captivating, but they are quite the fun toy to play with. Below I have listed a few of my favorite videos to date, but I am sure there are many out there I have yet to see.

Utah

I enjoy this footage as it reminds me of the various videos I have put together myself. I have been fortunate enough to visit and explore this landscape and it is always breathtaking.

Golden Gate Bridge

I have spent a good amount of time on the west coast and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge tower over the bay area will never get old.

Extreme Sports in Maui

Who doesn’t like extreme sports footage in an exotic location like Maui?!

Flying Your Quadcopter

ben sheehy aerial photography flying your quadcopterPracticing aerial photography requires a certain mastery of the machinery of your choice. Many professionals in this field go with the quadcopter to take their photos from up above. However, flying this complex machinery can be difficult at times. Below are 7 tips for flying your quadcopter like a pro.

1) Ease Into Manual Mode

Manual Mode is made for experienced flyers. The attributes put in place for stability purposes are not available in manual mode. One really has to have a mastery of piloting your quadcopter before venturing into manual mode.

2) Watch Out for Windy Conditions

Windy conditions will probably cause your quadcopter to crash. Keep your quadcopter indoors if there is over 10 mile per hour winds.  Some copters have automatic wind settings that adjust accordingly to the wind. Normally, you copter will have an indoor/outdoor setting, so make sure you adjust your copter to the appropriate settings.

3) Use GPS

Some of the more high-end quadcopters come with GPS. This is great for aerial photography and precision flying. With GPS mode, the copter is able to fly itself without guidance from the pilot. Another advantage is that you will always know where your copter is if it crashes or leaves your site.

4) Fly Into the Wind

If you feel a gust of wind coming towards your copter, the best way to counteract this effect is to fly against the wind. If the gust of wind is coming from the left side and pushing your copter to the right, fly left.

5) Keep It Simple

When you first start out, focus on mastering left, right, up, and down. Once you’ve mastered these, then you can start learning new tricks, like rolls and flips. If you want to try these more advanced tactics, make sure that there is optimal flying weather outside.

6) Master Hovering

An essential aspect of aerial photography is learning how to master hovering. It is critical to maintain an appropriate throttle, roll, and pitch to keep your quadcopter hovering in the same spot.

7) Turn Off the Throttle

If your copter crashes, you should turn off your throttle as quickly as possible, so the blades do not continue to rotate. If you do not turn off the throttle, the blades have the potential to brake, as they will be continuously hitting the ground.