AUVSI’s Xponential trade show that took place in Denver last week was filled with unique, exciting, and innovative models, solutions, and systems that are poised to take off in the field of drone technology. While visiting the different exhibitor booths, I noticed many different trends and show themes, with one—wearables—that stood out in particular.
At first glance, the incorporation of wearable and drone technology might seem farfetched, but ultimately helps consolidate some of the multitasking that comes with piloting drones. By combining a practical wearable device and optical augmentation, some exhibitors distinguished themselves by demonstrating how resourceful this union of technologies can be in advancing the operational capabilities of drone crafts. Epson’s Moverio BT-300 FPV, for example, is described as the world’s lightest pair of Si-OLED-powered binocular see-through smart glasses, and latest advance in first person view (FPV) wearable technology.
The smart glasses have a high-resolution transparent display that enables the drone pilot to capture photos or videos, while being able to switch their attention from viewing feed on their tablet or smartphone while the craft is airborne. One of the glasses lens display FPV feed of the drone that doesn’t obstruct the pilot’s view of their ground-level surroundings. The pilot can keep their drone in sight and stay out of trouble, since the wearable allows the UAV operator to maintain a direct line of sight with the craft, while monitoring key telemetry data and camera views. The smart glasses weigh roughly 2.5 oz, and are compact and comfortable, even if they have to be worn for extended periods of time.
While the usefulness of drones has already been proven in industries and operations like agriculture, security, and inspections, having a direct line of sight to the craft along with an FPV feed offers some unique advantages. In search and rescue scenarios, for example, drone operators can simultaneously conduct an overhead survey of the area in question while searching for survivors, in addition to monitoring their immediate surroundings (which could be in hazardous areas with volatile safety conditions like fires, severe weather, or even situations involving hostages or other armed conflicts). Inspectors of towers, buildings, and other infrastructure can compare broader viewpoints of the structure in question with focused visualizations and images of certain areas side-by-side, which could offer unique solutions and approaches on fixing and maintaining infrastructural operations never previously established.
The possibilities are broad and while the collaboration between wearable and drone technologies might be in its infancy, models like Epson’s Moverio BT-300 can provide a base model for researchers and technologists to work off of in an effort to develop more potent and efficient brands. The integration of wearables with drones is a unique yet effective and innovative union whose advantages and benefits can be effectively utilized by drone pilots and developers across any industry that utilizes UAVs in both day-to-day and critical operations.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)