These New AR Apps Will Take Your Drone Flying Skills to New Heights

December 11, 2017 - 4 minutes read

Drone app development and Augmented Reality (AR) each have so much occurring in their respective fields that it’s hard to imagine what would happen if you combined them. Two new novel concepts from Epson and DroneBase are demonstrating that this crossover has tremendous potential for innovation.

Simulate Drone Flying Before Taking to the Real Skies

In Long Beach, California, just south of Los Angeles, drone developers of Epson have been hard at work on their next foray into mixing AR and drones — a drone flight simulation app. The pioneering company has already previously released AR glasses for drone navigation and an AR drone racing game, so this next step is a logical progression.

Released last month, the simulation app was made possible through a collaboration with DJI and Y Media Labs. Epson’s AR glasses connect to DJI’s remote-control hardware for drones via a custom app from Y Media Labs’ San Francisco developers. You can either utilize the main free-flying mode to train or put your skills to the test with two mini-games: collecting candy or flying through floating rings.

Epson, DJI, and Y Media already have other AR projects in the works such as an app to improve the drone navigation interface of Epson’s AR glasses. Epson couldn’t be more excited by the results of this first collaboration: “This is arguably the first mainstream consumer application for augmented reality smartglasses,” says Eric Mizufuka, Epson America’s manager of new ventures. “[This] is a game-changer in the drone market and will usher in an exciting range of applications.”

Minecraft in the Skies

The L.A.-based developers of DroneBase have also been working on combining AR and drones. Their new AR platform, called AirCraft, lets pilots utilize their drone’s camera view to construct 3D structures in the sky. Just like the popular video game Minecraft, AirCraft provides the pilots with blocks to build their creations.

Dan Burton, co-founder and CEO of DroneBase, explains the unique aspect of AirCraft: “Unlike current AR experiences, AirCraft allows pilots to create and interact with virtual objects in the sky while flying. AirCraft gives pilots of all skill levels new reasons to fly their drones.”

Currently available as a beta feature in the DroneBase iOS app, the new AR platform is only as limited as its users’ creativity. Drone pilots can collaborate with one another to make art, build obstacle courses to fly through, and of course, take pictures to show off their skills. Burton says, “We’re looking to our community of pilots to see what they will build, how they will use the technology, and what they want next.” Besides being a source of limitless fun, DroneBase thinks that AirCraft can help with visualizing real construction.

Nothin’ But Blue Skies Ahead

DroneBase and Epson are both leveraging a unique vantage point made from the intersection of drone technology and AR. This hybrid field has nowhere to go but up. ABI Research market analysts estimate AR and mixed reality to reach revenues exceeding $95 billion by 2021. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) believes that seven million drones will take flight by 2020. There is no telling what the overlap between these two projections will be, but the sky is the limit.

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