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This Flying Sphere Has A Drone Inside: Meet The World's First Spherical Drone Display

27 April 2017, 7:25 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Tech Times
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NTT Docomo has announced the world's first spherical drone display and it will demonstrate it later this month. The flying sphere features an LED frame and houses a drone at its center, but it will take a while to hit the market.  ( NTT Docomo / YouTube )

NTT Docomo has developed a new type of display technology, introducing the world's first flying spherical drone display.

Drones have gained significant ground in recent years and they're getting better, more powerful and more versatile. Docomo is taking things to the next level and having a drone fly a display around, making it look like a giant flying sphere.

The futuristic flying display features multiple LEDs arranged on a sphere and flown by a drone. The sphere can rotate horizontally to appear as a display to the viewer. The technology is not ready for commercial use just yet, but it should hit the market by March 2019.

World's First Flying Spherical Drone Display

While it may seem straight out of a sci-fi movie, Docomo thinks it can bring it to market in a couple of years' time. The company says it's the world's first spherical drone display and it consists of an internal LED frame in a vertical arrangement, packed within an external metal frame.

Housed at the core of the sphere is a drone that can be remotely controlled to fly the spherical display anywhere. The intriguing device can display a resolution of 136 pixels wide and 144 pixels high.

The eight curved LED strips create the illusion of a display. When the device is flying, the LED frame spins rapidly in a fast horizontal motion, making it seem like a solid sphere of LEDs. The operator can program the baked-in computer to display a message such as a text or an illustration. When it's in flight, the spherical drone display sounds like a swarm of bees.

The Challenges Of Equipping A Drone With A Display

"Equipping a drone with a spherical display had proved difficult until now due to challenges such as the display interfering with the airflow of the drone's propellers as well as the added weight of the display," the company explains. "However, DOCOMO's solution uses a largely hollow display that is exceptionally lightweight and allows air to flow through it, yet it still achieves the illusion of a solid display by creating an afterimage effect with rapidly spinning LEDs."

In layman's terms, Docomo had trouble during the development because the display interfered with the drone's movements. To address the issue, the company opted for a hollow display that leaves the drone's airflow unrestricted and allows the device to be more lightweight. With a hollow frame, the display no longer messes with the drone's propellers nor weighs down the entire contraption.

The innovative flying spherical drone display could prove useful in a number of scenarios. At a concert venue, for instance, it could be part of the performance for a more spectacular show. At the same time, the device could also serve as a tool to display advertisements, various messages and such.

Docomo will demonstrate the spherical drone display later this month at the NTT Ultra Future Museum 2017 starting on April 29, but it remains to be seen when the device will be ready to hit the market.

The company expects to have it ready by March 2019, but it could still face various challenges that could delay the market release. Either way, it's an exciting prospect and we can't wait to hear more about it.

In the meantime, check out the video below to get a better idea of the concept.

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