Posts from drones

What Is Going To Happen In 2016

It’s easier to predict the medium to long term future. We will be able to tell our cars to take us home after a late night of new year’s partying within a decade. I sat next to a life sciences investor at a dinner a couple months ago who told me cancer will be a curable disease within the next decade. As amazing as these things sound, they are coming and soon.

But what will happen this year that we are now in? That’s a bit trickier. But I will take some shots this morning.

  1. Oculus will finally ship the Rift in 2016. Games and other VR apps for the Rift will be released. We just learned that the Touch controller won’t ship with the Rift and is delayed until later in 2016. I believe the initial commercial versions of Oculus technology will underwhelm. The technology has been so hyped and it is hard to live up to that. Games will be the strongest early use case, but not everyone is going to want to put on a headset to play a game. I think VR will only reach its true potential when they figure out how to deploy it in a more natural way.
  2. We will see a new form of wearables take off in 2016. The wrist is not the only place we might want to wear a computer on our bodies. If I had to guess, I would bet on something we wear in or on our ears.
  3. One of the big four will falter in 2016. My guess is Apple. They did not have a great year in 2015 and I’m thinking that it will get worse in 2016.
  4. The FAA regulations on the commercial drone industry will turn out to be a boon for the drone sector, legitimizing drone flights for all sorts of use cases and establishing clear rules for what is acceptable and what is not.
  5. The trend towards publishing inside of social networks (Facebook being the most popular one) will go badly for a number of high profile publishers who won’t be able to monetize as effectively inside social networks and there will be at least one high profile victim of this strategy who will go under as a result.
  6. Time Warner will spin off its HBO business to create a direct competitor to Netflix and the independent HBO will trade at a higher market cap than the entire Time Warner business did pre spinoff.
  7. Bitcoin finally finds a killer app with the emergence of Open Bazaar protocol powered zero take rate marketplaces. (note that OB1, an open bazaar powered service, is a USV portfolio company).
  8. Slack will become so pervasive inside of enterprises that spam will become a problem and third party Slack spam filters will emerge. At the same time, the Slack platform will take off and building Slack bots will become the next big thing in enterprise software.
  9. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee and he will attack the tech sector for its support of immigrant labor. As a result the tech sector will line up behind Hillary Clinton who will be elected the first woman President.
  10. Markdown mania will hit the venture capital sector as VC firms follow Fidelity’s lead and start aggressively taking down the valuations in their portfolios. Crunchbase will start capturing this valuation data and will become a de-facto “yahoo finance” for the startup sector. Employees will realize their options are underwater and will start leaving tech startups in droves.

Some of these predictions border on the ridiculous and that is somewhat intentional. I think there is an element of truth (or at least possibility) in all of them. And I will come back to this list a year from now and review the results.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2016.

Mapping A Mission

USV invested in Dronebase earlier this year but I had not used the service personally so I decided to change that this past week.

The Gotham Gal and I are working on a real estate development project in Brooklyn and we need to make some decisions in partnership with our architects. An aerial view of the property would help us make our decisions.

So on Saturday afternoon, we went to, clicked the big blue “get started” button, and found ourselves staring at a map. I typed in the address of the property and was shown a satellite map of it.

We then used the mapping tool to highlight the fly zone in blue. We then placed the camera icon over the specific points of interest we wanted to get close up views of.

Then we used the mapping tool to cover the neighboring buildings in a red “no fly zone.”

That produced this map of the mission we wanted:


Then we hit the green continue button, completed a few fields of information, chose which of the “images and video” or “maps and surveys” packages we wanted. We chose the $399 “basic” images and video package. Then we entered our credit card, verified that we owned the property or had permission from the owner to fly over it, and we were done.

A few minutes later we received an email stating that a drone pilot had been engaged and would be flying the job the next day (sunday).

On monday, we got a dropbox folder full of video and images including this edited summary video of the job:

We then shared that dropbox folder with our architects and a few days later we had a decision that we are all happy with.

I know I am biased by our investment in and ownership interest in Dronebase, but this experience was kind of magical. For $399 and a few minutes of work on the computer we got exactly the views we wanted to see. All of our questions and concerns were answered with the footage we purchased.

I can see how drone based services are going to change a lot of things. Hiring a drone pilot is simple, easy, fast, and not particularly expensive. If you have a job you want done on your property or the property of someone you know who will authorize it, go to Dronebase and check it out. It’s a super cool and useful service.

AR Drone – The Maiden Voyage

I wrote about drones a while back and as part of my exploration of them, I bought an AR Drone on Amazon. It was shipped to my office for some reason and sat there for about a month as I normally cycle or scooter home. But yesterday I decided to Hailo it home and bring the drone home with me.

It was good timing as all of our kids are home this week and got to participate in the maiden voyage. Emily and I unboxed it and charged the battery. Then we took it for its maiden voyage in the living room of our apartment.

Josh did the flying bit on my android phone, Emily and Jessica did the Instagraming and Vining, and I played prevent defense so that the drone would not hit our Eric Freeman painting.

After witnessing this scene, the Gotham Gal immediately banned all drone flying in the apartment so we will have to continue our exploration in the back yard.

Here are some thoughts based on the out of the box experience and maiden voyage:

1) the out of the box experience is great. It basically comes all put together, you charge the battery, download the app (iOS and Android) onto your phone or tablet and you are good to go.

2) it conects via wifi not bluetooth. That works fine but while you are flying the drone, you are not online. That seems like an issue at some level for cool things you might want to do with it that leverage the internet.

3) the app that controls the drone and the interface was not particularly intuitive. Josh plays enough video games that he is probably a candidate for the air force drone academy and yet he had some difficulty figuring it out.

4) everyone loves the drone. It would make a great house pet.

Once I get the hang of flying the drone, I want to start programming it. I plan to continue to post updates here as I get more into this.