Communications

Drone Week: Age Of The Useful Drone

Last week, I talked about the fact that we might have reached "peak drone," the idea that public interest in drones and quadcopters is waning. That doesn't mean there isn't a use for them. I feel like over the past few months, there's actually been more "useful" articles about drones, rather than the fun and gimmicky ones like the burrito delivery drone. Anyways, time will tell. Here are this week's round-up of drone-related news stories: Apparently France is accusing rival soccer teams of using a drone to spy on them at their training camp in Brazil for the World Cup. However, it is still unclear if it's actual spying that's happening or, as the article says, an enthusiastic fan. The former is definitely a more interesting news story, but the latter much more likely.

Maybe you'll be able to see video of that training footage on TravelByDrone, a site that aims to give you a drone-based view of the world in the same way Google StreetView gave you a car-based view. The site's team is manually vetting and adding new drone videos to their site at a few hundred a day, according to TechCrunch. 

 

 

Drone Week - Have we reached "peak drone"?

Another week, and and drones continue to show up in the news and the blogs. What follows is another of my regular round-ups on the topic of drones.   

Firstly, have we reached Peak Drone? I plugged the word "drone" into Google trends, and it spat out the following chart (along with a bit of a forecast). It's not necessarily the best indicator in the topic, but it looks public interest in drones peaked a few months ago, in December 2013. Either that, or they're becoming so commonplace that people don't need to search for them anymore.

 

Next up is a cyberpunk-ish video by M.I.A. feature not only drones, but also 3D-printed guns and a glitchy vibe. The whole thing feels like a 90s dream of what the future should have been, but it's still pretty cool. Watch it here.

If you want to terrify your dog and annoy your neighbours, then getting a drone to take your pets out to poo is probably the way to go. 

And apparently the Lithuanian mob has gotten into the drone business, using a gigantic specimen of one to smuggle cigarettes into Russia, 22 pounds at a time. 

And finally, a team is working on creating a type of aquatic drone that will gradually clean the world's oceans of all that plastic. Good luck, guys.

That's it for Drone Week on BlogCampaigning for now.

Rise of the Companion App

For the last few years, advertisers have known that those watching their ads are likely to have a second screen nearby, whether it's a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. What's interesting to me is that game developers are starting to take notice of this. The Wii-U was the first instance a "second screen" experience for gamers, but more interesting to me are the companion apps that are closely tied to a few of the big games that have come out recently or are hotly anticipated. Check out my round-up of these below:

 

Tom Clancy's The Division - I'm pretty excited for this dystopian police game, but even more excited for what the companion app will do. According to IGN, your friends will be able to join you via their iPhone or iPad to control a drone in the game, pointing out snipers or laying down cover fire.

 

 

Destiny - As excited as I am for The Division, I'm probably more excited about Destiny. How can the former Halo developers go wrong? Unfortunately, their companion app (dubbed "Companion") doesn't sound nearly as interesting, and is nothing more than a tool for keeping track of your stats and maybe updating your loadout.

Watch Dogs - Despite a lukewarm reception, Watch Dogs still looks pretty interesting. Rather than supporting you or acting as another player, it pits you against other players in couple of different game modes.

Titanfall - The Titanfall companion app sits in the middle of a few of these, and offers you an interactive mini-map of the current game. It's not groundbreaking, but an interesting add-on to what is supposed to be an amazing game.

Are there any other gaming companion apps I'm missing?

Humans.

I found this quote on Reddit via user Reasonably Plausible, and really liked it:

"Human beings are scary. We breathe a corrosive gas, drink one of the most potent solvents. Our preferred method of hunting was persistence hunting, where we chased animals until their body simply gave up and died. We can eat just about anything we find, which means that we don't need to stop for food when chasing our prey. If we can't find food, that's fine. Our body will simply begin to eat itself so that we don't have to stop chasing our prey. We walk upright, we sweat, we don't have much body hair, which allows us to radiate away our body heat. This means that excessive time or extreme environment wont stop our hunts. If the animal fights back against us, we can take massive damage to our extremities and lose half our blood and still live. Our entire existence is owed to persistence, endurance, and determination. When we put ourselves to a task, it gets done, period. And this instinct is still affecting us today. 332BC: Alexander the Great hits a stalemate with the fortified island city of Tyre. Instead of going back defeated, he builds a kilometer long bridge in order to raze the city. 49BC: Cesar, after defeating the Gauls and invading Britain, turns a political fight into a civil war by invading Italy with only a single legion. He eventually becomes dictator starting a world superpower whose engineering feats are only recently being broken. 1804AD: A charismatic French general declares himself Emperor and sets off to conquer much of mainland Europe. He is captured, exiled, and then escapes. The soldiers sent to recapture him instead lay down their arms and join him. 1961AD: One man decides that we will go to the moon, despite much of the technology to do so not even existing yet. Just eight years later, two humans stand on the surface of the moon and look back upon the Earth. 200 years ago, we didn't have railroads. 100 years ago, we didn't have airplanes. 50 years ago, we didn't have spaceflight. 25 years ago we didn't have the Internet. We've already inherited the Earth and soon we WILL inherit the stars and anyone or anything that stands in our way will be eliminated one way or another."

Crotches Get Clicks

 

I got a pretty hilarious email from Betabrand who wrote in to tell me that they saw the best results when their social media content included a close-up of a male crotch clothed in Betabrand products. I'm not sure it will work for everyone company, but the numbers don't lie (see the charts bel0w), and it's an interesting way for a company's creative to be so heavily driven by their clicks and web traffic.

 

 

Their concept of "Sock Insurance" is also pretty neat.

Drone Week - May 9

I've been a bit busy lately, and haven't had time to do my weekly wrap-ups of drones in the news but here goes: Apparently some chaps at the Imperial College London have created a drone that works as a 3D printer, in that it sprays out a foam-like substance as it flies and can build things. It's supposed to mimic the way that swifts (a type of bird) build their nests, and the researchers say it can be used to repair areas inaccessible to humans, like wind-turbines.

Slashdot reports that in March, a passenger plane nearly collided with a civilian drone. As our skies fill with these little objects, this type of thing will become increasingly common.

And if that didn't terrify you, the news that DARPA is getting funding to create swarms of drones that are less reliant on their human operators and work more as a team with each other might.

 

 

And while it's not really a "drone", a company in Florida has created a little running robot called the "Outrunner" than reach speeds of 20mph. It seems to be an early version, so it will be interesting to see what else they can do with it and if it will have any uses.,

 

http://io9.com/darpa-wants-to-teach-military-drones-the-meaning-of-tea-1572126878

Drone Week - April 18

I think I might have missed one of my weekly recaps of drone and quadcopter news, but that's because I've been doing a bit of travelling lately.

Up first is the story of an apparently hacked drone crashing and injuring a triathlete in Australia. The story has made the rounds across a number of different publications, but I first read about it on Kotaku. What I liked is one of the first comments on that article:

Nope. This guy is a complete jackoff. Either he's flat-out lying, or he was grossly negligent and incompetent... In either case, fuck him.

First of all, let's start with the airframe. It's a $20 Chinese knockoff of a DJI Flamewheel hexacopter, that he no doubt purchased from Hobby King. (The fact that it's not DJI motors or anything else is a good tipoff.) And even a properly-configured $100 Chinese flight controller would've RTL'd (Return To Launch; climb to a safe altitude and fly back to the GPS coordinates of where it took off from.) upon loss of control. (Even a $60 one, really.)Nevermind the fact that any RX/TX setup you pay more than $50 for won't be interfered with that easily. Bottom line is, once again, either he's flat-out lying and it was operator error, or he was flying a dangerously unfit piece of equipment overhead of people.

 

The second interesting news item from the last few weeks about drones is a collision of technology trends, with the University of Sheffield announcing they've designed a drone that can be 3D printed and flown that same day. I can see situations where it's not feasible to bring large numbers of drones to a location, but where a 3D printer and materials are readily available.

Apparently Google is also getting in to the drone game. According to a link that Jason Guitard sent my way. I'm not really sure what to make of this news - in the scale of drone company acquisitions, it's probably pretty big. In the scale of Google, it's probably not a big investment on their part. According to the article, they plan on using it to potentially map the earth in more detail and/or to provide quicker internet speeds around the world.

  Lastly, the Daily Dot wrote an article about some guy in California who took the first "Drone Selfie". I'd like to refute that claim, as this Instagram photo from last summer clearly demonstrates that I beat them to it with my Parrot AR.Drone 2.0. You can check out some more photos I took with that drone here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drone Week April 4: Tom Cruise, Phones and Fukushima

If you've been reading BlogCampaigning for the past month or so, you'll have noticed that I'm doing weekly recaps of drone-related news. You can find the previous posts here. 

First up is a cool post on RoboHub about an organization named Drone Adventures who have done an aerial survey of Fukushima, site of the Tsunami/Nuclear disaster three years ago. It has some interesting observations on the state of the area, but what I liked most is that it seems they are using the same type of drone that ReRoll is using the map the earth for their open-world game. Maybe we'll see Fukushima as the first level?

 

 

Next up is Flone, a drone created by a group of artists and computer engineers which uses a smartphone as the control mechanism. Read more about it here. 

 

And lastly: It sounds like there's going to be a sequel to Top Gun but this time it will be Tom Cruise vs Drones. I'll watch it, but only for the drones.

 

If you've got any other drone-related news, leave me a comment or Tweet me. Otherwise, check out the other weekly drone posts I've done here.

Drone Week - March 28

Another week on planet Earth, and another set of interesting news about drones. First up, Foreign Policy magazine is reporting that the Pentagon might use a fleet of "underwater drones" to help find Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

 

Also in the news is Drone Hire, who have recently posted that they'll be accepting Bitcoins for payment. The company appears to be a loose organization of drone operators willing to rent out their machines and services.

 

And lastly. DDB Canada/Tribal Worldwide recently released a new spot for Subaru Canada for the WRX. Read more about it on Slashgear.

 

The Best Reactions To the Oculus Rift Acquisition By Facebook

I think I was as surprised as anyone about the news that Occulus Rift, VR-darling of the indie game community had been acquired by Facebook for $2 billion dollars. Some of the reactions were more interesting than mine, and I've captured a few below. The following comic was the top post on Reddit for a few hours today, and sums up what I think a lot of people's thoughts about the situation are:

Next up is a post on Reddit's R/Funny section titled "Well, looks like Simpsons called it again." Although it does look like the Simpsons are predicting a Virtual Reality version of Farmville, the originally game was actually "Yardwork Simulator."

 

The following Tweet is my personal favourite reaction the the news (though it might be lost on those who aren't fans of the Metal Gear Solid video game series):

 

 

 

And the last, but possibly most important, reaction comes from Notch. The man behind the popular Minecraft game and apparently an early investor in the Oculus rift Tweeted that he thought Facebook was creepy, then followed it up with a lengthy blog post, a highlight of which is below:

Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.

Radar 10am One Thing: ReRoll

This post originally appeared on the DDB Canada Blog.   

Virtual worlds are big and getting bigger: The world of Skyrim is just under 40 square kilometers. Grand Theft Auto V‘s map is 126 square kilometers.  DayZ, a recently-released survival game, has a map size of about 230 square kilometers. Middle Earth, the fictional world of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings saga, is about the size of the British Isles and has been recreated virtually.

Developers of the upcoming game ReRoll are dreaming bigger. A lot bigger. Like, 510 million square kilometers bigger.

That’s because 510 million square kilometers is the surface area of the Earth, and they’re planning on using drones to map our entire planet, creating the biggest open-world game ever.  It’s an ambitious project, and like a lot of crowd-funded games, might never come to fruition. However, we’re interested in the way that it is further blurring the lines between real and virtual. The Montreal-based team behind the game is funding it via crowdsourcing on their website ReRollGame.com. Their announcement video will help show you just how big this project is going to be.

Entering The House of The Sun - Hiking Haleakala

 

While Heather and I were on the island of Maui over the Christmas holidays, we did an amazing hike through Haleakala crater. The following are a few photos from the hike (click through on each one for a larger version).

 

 

 

 

 

I'd highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting Maui who wants an experience outside of the usual beach and surf scene. The scenery is unlike anything else you'll see on the island, and it really gets you away from the crowds. Make sure to pack warm clothes and lots of water and food. We did the 18.5 km hike in a little bit over four hours, but you might want to plan on taking a bit more time than that. The National Parks Service has a great page of information and maps for the area here.

Check out a few of my other blog posts about Hawaii:

Hiking The King's  Highway

The Garden Isle and The Valley Isle

 

 

 

Hiking The King's Highway | Maui

Inspired by the awesome blog Unreal Hawaii, I've decided Below are a few photos I took on a hike along The King's Highway, which is a trail across rough lava rock on the south side of Maui. According to the "Every Trail" website, these lava fields are about 200 years old. There is barely any vegetation growing, and the entire landscape looks like Mars (which is why I like this hike so much). If you give it at try, make sure you bring good walking shoes and lots of water. There's no shade. I also used the Nike+ App on on my iPhone, so if you want to check out the map of what I hiked you can here.

 

 

King's Highway, Maui

 

King's Highway, Maui

 

King's Highway, Maui

 

Deer Skeleton

 

To get to the King's Highway, follow the road to Makena beach, and go all the way past La Perouse bay. If you're into this sort of thing, also check out the History of Maui on Wikipedia.

 

Old Friends and New | A Visit To Sydney Australia

I know I've been a little light on blogging here recently, but that's because I've been busy with a lot of new projects at work. As part of my new role as Global Program Lead at Tribal Worldwide, I went to Australia to help my colleagues at DDB Sydney with a campaign for one of their clients. The office there was beautiful, but more important were the people: they were welcoming, professional and smart, and they reminded me of why I like working within the DDB network so much.

 

 

I also got a chance to connect with Jens Schroeder. Longtime readers of BlogCampaigning may remember him as Schredd, one of the original authors and founders of this site. It was the first time we'd seen each other in about six years, and hopefully I convinced him to do a better job of keeping in touch.

That's it for today's update - hopefully I'll be back soon.

-Parker

 

GamerCamp Toronto: November 1st-3rd

I'm not a coder, developer or even really a hard-core gamer, but if you've been reading this blog long enough you know I've got an interest in Video Games, and how they fit today's culture.

That's why I love Gamer Camp, a yearly and unique Toronto event curated by Jaime Woo. It's not about showcasing the blockbuster hits, it's about the spirit and creativity between creating games and playing them.

There will be a board game cafe, an arcade of great indie games, and some great talks by people from different parts of the games industry.

This year, Gamer Camp has also added an extra day, The Interactive and Games Conference, that I'm excited for:

"The Interactive and Game Conference will feature 20 inspiring, useful talks from organizations and individuals bringing fresh looks to both fields in hopes of cross-pollinating and sparking cool, new ideas. (Gamercamp itself, for example, sprung out of drawing inspiration from tech, art, and culture events like TED, Come Up To My Room, and TIFF.)

Attendees can expect interesting takes on the interactive and games space including: An in-depth session on the game design lessons from DrinkBox Studios' critically acclaimed Guacamelee (pictured below) National Film Board producer Gerry Flahive sharing on the award-winning interactive documentary Highrise Mission Business, the team behind the spooky and successful interactive theatrical experience Visitations at the Drake Hotel, and A first-look at Stringer, an immersive journalism first person videogame that places you in the middle of an Afghanistan battlefield using the Oculus Rift and Hydra technologies—a collaboration between George Brown College and Cinema Suite Inspirations from the curator of TIFF's innovative and popular media experience DigiPlaySpace Demonstrations on using the creativity tools Lua and ZBrush"

If you're in Toronto, try and attend. Details are here.

PS: The fashion/video game mashup images that will be displayed at the festival, Double Flawless, are also super cool

 

Are you the One Hero that Canada needs?

 

I'm pretty excited about this project for Canadian Blood Services that I've been working on with my DDB Canada colleagues and Stopp LA

One Match, a division of Canadian Blood Services, needs stem cell donations from Canadian males, aged 17-35. To reach this target, we created an online, interactive comic book experience that aims to educate young males about the science and process of donating stem cells, as well as the importance of doing so and how they can be a "hero."

Check it out at OneHero.ca or register directly to donate stem cells at OneMatch.ca

Quadricopter Fuel

One of the perks of working for DDB Canada is DDB Fuel, a program that gives each employee $250 a year to spend on something that will "fuel their creativity." A few years ago, I used it to buy a GoPro Camera, and used it on a couple of surfing trips. Last year, I used my Fuel to take Japanese lessons. This year, I bought a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter While it's possible to fly the Parrot AR almost right out of the box (after the battery has been charged), mastering it is another story. It's controlled via an iOS App that streams video directly to your phone, giving you a bird's eye view of the world:

 

I've been interested in drones and quadrocopters for a while, and find that they make interesting topics of conversation at our weekly Radar 10am meeting, so it's been awesome to get some hands-on experience. This hands-on experience isn't limited to just flying the device. After only a few days of ownership, I had my first crash and had to order replacement parts (new gears and new central cross). This led to completely taking apart the drone, and rebuilding it. As a result, I now know way more about circuit boards than I used to. It also gave me a chance to give it a custom paint job:

What's also neat about the Parrot AR Drones is that the iOS App gives you a data output after each flight, detailing speed, heigh and battery usage:

If you're interested in more things like this, check out the links below:

Matternet is looking to solve transportation problems by creating a network of drones and groundstations in remote or otherwise difficult to reach areas. While I believe their first focus is on using the system as a means of delivering medicine to remote villages in Africa, it also has it's uses as an urban courier system in congested areas.

I've learned a lot about fixing and updating my Parrot AR Drone from DroneFlyers.com. They've got great articles that walk you through the different steps of troubleshooting even the most basic drones.

TechCrunch recently covered a new start up, Spiri, aimed at creating drones that would enable developers to more easily program drone/quadricopter apps.

Lastly, check out the video below of two quadricopters juggling a stick:

Fiordland (A Beautiful Surfing Video)

Maybe it's because I'm on a little bit of a wilderness kick these days after a trip to British Columbia and reading The Golden Spruce, but I loved the Fiordland video put together by Surfer Magazine, filmed in the Fiordland National Park of New Zealand. It's a bit of a departure from the usual sun-and-indie rock of most surf videos, but the wintery scenes and piano music really work.