In Just 10 Short Years – This Industry Has Gone from Gaming Novelty to Productivity Platform!

We were working on our blog post for today when we got distracted by an article that crossed our feed – which happened to mention that one of the original ‘quadcopter drones’ came out just over ten short years ago!

It was the arrival of the quadcopter concept – four rotors or more – that provided for much of the innovation within our industry, as it led to huge opportunities for stable flight operations.

But what was so interesting is that this original product from 10 years ago was initially pitched as a gaming platform!

It really is quite mesmerizing to realize just how far drones have come by looking at the article, which was reporting on the appearance of one of the first consumer level drones at MacWorld 2010. At the time, the buzz around the arrival of this new device featured barely any mention of an industry beyond the use of drones for gaming (and at the time, the only other mention of drones in the news involved wars….)

“…..the company told us plainly that they consider it to be a toy, and that they plan to sell it to the same type of people who would be interested in video game consoles and high tech gadgets like that….”

And so while we are busy documenting the powerful role that drones can play in providing critical insight to a vast number of different industries – it’s kind of fun to think that the original purpose of this technology never really came about. The Parrot AR Drone was actually brought to market as a toy…only a few years later did this company and others realize the real potential of drones was to be found in commercial and business applications.

And looking at it today compared to the sleek, lightweight and aerodynamic drones of today – it was actually kind of big and clunky. In fact, looking at it, it doesn’t seem too sturdy compared to today’s marvels of flight.

What’s interesting though, is the stated purpose of this first real drone that someone could easily purchase – it was marketed essentially as a new gaming platform! Buy two, and you could have aerial ‘battles’ in the sky!

The ‘AR’ in the product title stood for ‘Augmented Realty,” and an article from 2010 suggested that two people could each fly their own drones – and shoot virtual missiles at each other from their drone, which they would see on the attached iPhone screen.

A few other fun facts:

  • It could operate in winds ‘up to 9mph.’ Today’s drones are stabilized to such a degree that a high end drone can deal with wind speeds much higher than that.
  • A free developer kit was made available that would allow anyone to develop a game for the drone platform. The fact that drones haven’t really become a gaming platform about sums up the success of this initiative!
  • There were but two controls on the iPhone/Ipad ap – up/down/rotate, and forward / back. Modern drones have much more capability, including camera controls.

Want a trip back in time to the arrival of today’s drone industry in this funny and awkward early start? Watch this video about the product from 2011!

How far we have come! And yet, how far we have yet to go!

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