By Katrina Naidas
Among 2015 buzzwords like ‘bitcoin’, ‘selfie’, and ‘whistleblower’, you’ll also find ‘drone’, the ever-familiar word. Drones are those flying pieces of technology, scary to some, known mostly by their reputation in surveillance. Since drones were popularized by media through stories of espionage in war-torn countries, the public holds a disappointingly narrow view of this versatile technology. There’s no arguing that drones do brilliantly assisting Big Brother, but drone tech has applications far beyond those that James Bond would admire.
The best-known use of drones is the military. Drones are also being tested as couriers by Amazon Prime. However, its applications stretch farther than these obvious uses. In fact, drones are trailblazing a diversity of fields, bringing new life into old industries.
The example of science is an important one. Aside from simply capturing some spectacular nature shots, drones have found ways to innovate multiple branches of science. Meteorology found good use in drones by sending them out as hurricane trackers. What used to be a dangerous task can now be observed via drones flying around in the throes of a category five hurricane without risking the lives that a manned helicopter would. Areas like geology have been upgraded by efficient 3-D mapping done by drones resulting in the most precise geological surveys to date. Drones have even had odd tasks in biology, such as flying over the blowholes of whales in order to obtain otherwise hard-to-get snot samples. Imagine how scientists would have obtained samples of that nature before.
One industry eager to capitalize on the possibilities of drones is the film industry. The unique ability of drones to fit into any nook and cranny has resulted in the filmmaker’s ability to capture extreme angles from points of view that were previously not accessible by a handheld camera. What was once limited by a camera and a crane can now be shot smoothly, safely and easily. The results are unique points of view captured not only beautifully, but also executed with a lower budget.
The fields of media and journalism are gaining new perspectives by using drones. Currently, many journalists put their lives in danger for the sake of their work. Unlike the risks of putting journalists on the front lines, or in the heat of a violent protest, drones are aerial witnesses to the action giving them a wider field of vision, away from smoke and teargas. This type of utility can vastly make news more candid, without having to endanger journalists.
Simply looking at the diversity of these examples epitomizes how drones are innovating in countless fields. Applications remain endless. Agriculture is using drones for crop dusting and seeding. Drones are even being used for creative recreation. Take for example the Spotify Party Drone: a speaker-bearing drone that can move over huge crowds blasting music dynamically over moving masses of festival-goers. Applications of drone technology like these help break the common reputation of drones being functionally militant.
Like all technology, how a tool is used depends on the need and intention of the people who hold it. To look beyond drones, simply as a weaponized technology used by government, is to open the public mind to applications that can revolutionize every industry. Drones are not tools to fear, but they provide creative new solutions to age-old practices.
Katrina Naidas is a classic jack of all trades and serial creative. After graduating from Rutgers University in the field of psychology, Katrina’s passions have driven her to art, music, dance and writing. She is the founder of the new ed-tech start up Linked Noodle, an online platform connecting students to local teachers. Katrina’s interests often lie at the intersection of art and technology. She is a lover of good content, collaboration and learning new things.