When it comes to thinking up uses for drones, telepresence has always been one of the biggest innovative use cases, but has never truly come into its own. Google, who has thought up a few creative uses for drones themselves over the years, is looking to change all of that. A new patent from Google shows off a concept design for a drone specifically built for teleconferencing. The drone is a fairly plain, bar-style quadcopter, aside from the fact that a giant screen hangs down from the front, not unlike the drone has a face. That screen and some accompanying cameras and sound equipment make the magic happen.
The drone is designed to be movable by the party on the other side of the screen, who will have control over not only the drone, but also the angle of the attached screen, which is shown at various angles, but looks to be capable of looking directly above and below it, as well. While many drones out there, almost all decent ones, in fact, feature cameras, they don't feature a screen, for the most part. This means that while Google's drone may not be quite as good at flying over iconic landscapes to get a good shot, or racing, it is uniquely talented in teleconferencing. The drone, unlike typical telepresence setups in the business world, can traverse stairs, look at people on eye-level, and hover around the room to get a better look at documents and other materials that may be scattered about during a typical meeting.
While a drone with a built in screen may be a highly specialized device, additional text in the patent seems to point to a variant that features a bracket for a smartphone instead of a screen. A drone of this sort would have to shoulder the burden of a heavy smartphone, but wouldn't have to power the audio or video, or network for that matter, to make the telepresence happen. Not only does this mean battery life may be longer, but such a drone would be far cheaper and easier to make, and such a setup could even be the subject of a DIY project involving existing drones. This means that the project could reach the mainstream, making telepresence just as common among friends and family as it is among colleagues and students.