August 30, 2017

A Spherical LED Screen Drone is Coming to the World—But Why?

spherical drone
These might be the drones you're looking for.

A new drone created by Japanese telecom company Docomo is surrounded by a spherical LED screen that can display customized, omnidirectional visual content while in flight. 

But why?

While this might not seem like it serves a specific filmmaking need, it could be used as an amazing prop or set piece if you need flying, glowing signage or floating colorful robotic orbs, or some sort of sci-fi looking aerial vehicle in one of your projects. You could even potentially set the orb to display a solid color and create some pretty interesting lighting effects with it. Of course, its primary use will likely be to display ads and other entertainment content at big arena-type events.

How does it work?

The drone sits inside of a spherical, metal cage with LEDs fastened to it. Outside of that cage is a second spherical cage enclosing all of the components. While the drone flies, the inner cage spins very quickly, making the LEDs present as a solid, spherical surface by creating "after image" (persistence of vision at work here, folks!).

The drone is about 36in wide and weighs in at just under 7 lbs. While that is a fairly sizable flying machine, the display resolution isn't very high at all (144px by 136px) and is probably best used for abstract color combinations and very simple shapes. 

Docomo LED Drone Cage
Credit: Docomo

When can you buy one?

According to Docomo, the drone should be commercially available in early 2019. No information on cost has been released.

Can you think of any interesting uses for this in filmmaking? Let us know in the comments!     

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August 31, 2017 at 8:04AM, Edited August 31, 8:04AM

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