Drones and Live Streaming: Could this be the future?

What do mobile app developers do in the middle of winter in Minnesota? Easy. They fly drones. No really…that’s what Gavin and Doug, members on the Development team of MobCon founding sponsor MentorMate, have been doing for a few weeks to better understand the how businesses could benefit from this type of technology and what their integration with iOS and Android means.

Our drone business opportunities research started with some dropped jaws

When the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced arrived in the office, we hovered around it like a moth to a flame. The fact that we were looking at a consumer product excited us even more. We were eager to explore drone business opportunities of the compact variety both now and in the future.

The mission was simple: Familiarize ourselves with the technology and dig into the app software required to operate it. Doing this would enable us to uncover hardware and software enhancements and various use-cases for our clients.

Current specs are pretty awesome

Flying out of the box, this drone was packed with

GPS-assisted hover
2.7K video camera
12 megapixel photos
Android and iOS GO APP

So, it was ready to put to test and see how all the tech performed. After several short (and loud) test flights in the office, we threw on our coats, hats, and gloves and took to the sky outside.

Our top pick of the drone business opportunities — live streaming

The more we tested out the functionality of the drone, the more we started to think about drone business opportunities around live streaming. Currently, most high-end consumer drones offer live video feeds via the smartphone connected to the drone controller, like the DJI Phantom does. But what if we were able to take that a step further and stream the video footage live to a website?

First, let’s talk through why this could be a good idea if done right. Use cases would be:

Search and rescue: Getting to places before physical teams can is one thing, but leveraging drones to provide assistance is another. With live streaming feeds, healthcare providers can perform early diagnosis via drone communication and send the right type of care to the person or people in need.
Bomb investigation: Not only would this prevent the need to put bomb experts in a dangerous spot, getting a drone into tight spaces where a bomb may be located would enable quicker assessments. If there’s a unique bomb configuration, sharing the live feed with other personnel instantly could help prevent it from triggering.

Building inspections: Roofing companies could compile quotes for customers much faster by leveraging drones to travel to customer house, provide a live feed of the roof, dimensions, and need for repair.
Live streaming on drones essentially allows more field experts to tune into the feed instantly and provide faster service or care in a safer capacity.

The technology isn’t quite there…yet

The DJI Android SDK needs some work as it currently doesn’t work with live streaming functionality. However, in iOS, we were able to see a pathway to develop a method to stream live video feeds to external sources outside the DJI app. Also, live streaming would open up even more regulatory concerns in addition to current concerns around air space and privacy.

Inspired by this blog, we also made a short video highlighting some ways drones are currently being used in professional settings:

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