Cyberculture can be referred to as the “response to the ubiquitous presence and use of computers and networks for aspects of contemporary social life” for example entertainment. I wanted to link ‘computers’ to a broader extension of what is thought of, in a PC or laptop, to a motherboard of controls to Arduino to robotics, thus drones and their hardware.
Over the last year I’ve built an expertise looking into Drones In Agriculture as well as Production, Consumption and Representation of Drones in China.
This allowed me to then extend the interest into First Person View (FPV) Drone viewing and 360 degree cameras, modding quadcopters for performance and overall extending their immediate and obvious tasks, then their implication to the way the drone is represented to a wider consumer. Initially I set out to study the use of FPV goggles in racing situations and the cybernetic relationship between the craft’s lens and the human eye and then link the research into the Game Cultures class looking at a FPV league at university.
So this is where my investigation began and along the way evolved. The FPV goggles I believed served as an extended lens to the iris to view a particular moment in space that I alluded to a “disembodiment gaze”. photo Iris > Lens
You can’t see those around you at this point without the assistance and view of the drone, and if there is a monitor connected picking up the analogue signal then this further develops this as those around can see you and the view you have, yet you can’t see them. The idea of having complete freedom in FPV goggles to view whatever the drone saw fascinated me, but didn’t satisfy until I came across an FPV race flight that had a 360-degree camera attached, which ultimately left the flight path viewing in complete user control. 360 Degree video has been used for another extension of what I touched on regarding FPV flight.
This drone racing with 360 video adds a whole new element to the displacement of the viewer. It has little alteration to the pilot, however this kind of thinking works its way into the world of invention drone narratives
This idea of viewing spaces without having to physically move, linked nicely with an external project I am working on for the Roads and Maritime services (formally RTA) about the use of drones for observation and surveillance not seen yet in technological trajectory. Drones entered the consumer world without the slightest hint of public awareness and it’s a positive direction for the technological evolution of the device. Building on the extension of the eye, 360 Video Technology has integrated its way onto the drone for a more immersive and natural viewing angle ever.
One particular device that I’ve managed to get my hands on is the 360Heros camera mount, that acts like a human extension of the skull or neck. The user is able to click and drag viewing any part of the footage they desire. This extends the original narrative of the commercialization of the drone in organisations.
Traditionally, the surveillance of the inside quality of a prevalent culvert has required a physical exploration by an employee to get inside and make observations. These areas are often wet, dirty/muddy, unhygienic in terms of syringes as well as infested with bugs, spiders and other unwanted inhabitants. By sending a Drone inside this area, the user is able to control a constant altitude as well as 360 degree swivel option to view all parts of the inside of the pipe.
Something that’s facilitated the use of 360 degree cameras as a consumer friendly entity, is the idea of the drone casting narratives from its invention to present day availability. Chris Moore delivered a lecture #dronestories that discussed the idea that all drone types, whether they be quadcopters I’m dealing with, RC Model planes or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), all devices have a story that dictates a stigmatic association and comfort in space. The Internet is already a widely accepted use of technology, no one has any problems with it but it hasn’t always been the case. Connections can be drawn with how our obsessive use of the internet is linked to why we as a participatory culture are subconsciously becoming a drone enthusiast society. If we look at the drones characteristics and then we look at current technological consumption, we can see the definitive overlap.
Drone Technology characteristics
- Geographic information systems
- Sousveillance – that is an activity is recorded by a participant in that activity.
- Mediation platform – its own experience
Now if we look at the consumer side of technological consumption we see
- Mapping programs (I a likened to GPS)
- Location aware pocket software ( iphone > then using location services)
- Public sourced media data base (YouTube is the big one for footage)
- Apps and algorithms that navigate (this link from Facebook can be used in software such as A.R. Free Flight 2.0)
Therefore, these characteristics are both key components that make up the drone, from which were already in existence before the commercial drone was released. So I’m of the belief that the technological make up isn’t where the anxiety lies, it’s what people are doing with the devices which calls for the urgency for regulation separate and exclusive. Discussed heavily by Adam Rothstein that I would like to draw into using Chris Anderson’s idea that the drone is at the level of a 1970s personal computer. The computer and later the internet become socially and commercially a phenomenon that is something we’re all connected to and have access to. I like the idea that the drone will merge its way through regulation and defeat the mythos accompanying all new technology.
Drones come with a certain technological mythos, a speculative narrative that is slowly being integrated into commercial uses and the features of 360 video is something I believe is helping the changing speculation regarding them. 360 video gives complete control to the viewer on where they want to look spatially within the video experience. Mount the camera to a drone and all of a sudden new perspectives and narratives are drawn, and possibilities both human and technological are seen.
The FPV research from game cultures had its own study path, which lead me into areas of design, modification and expansion. This facilitated my own drone build to which I could study and aim for in a drone that carried another new camera narrative in 360-degree video. Not only has the viewer now have access to complete freedom with the video viewing position, they now have an added perspective from a drone. The extension from the human and in particular the eye, lead me into some slightly left field research but I found interesting none-the-less.
Man’s link to human enhancement is through tech with animal characteristics and in particular the 360 degree camera attached to a drone presents an eagle like advantage. The idea is that an FPV goggle mount is fixed with a 360 camera, the human has ultimately enhanced themselves based on animal, specifically predator, advantages. Predatory eyes in front for perceptual jumping, the idea is that aggressive immanence only requires a forward view. Then if you think about the prey collection of creature’s eye sight, they’re designed to sense the prey 180 degrees around them with the 90-degree forward view access by constant movement.
This quote debates the idea of humans being fitted with eagle vision, however it clearly resembles that perspective of a drone attached with a 360-degree camera.
With an eagles 20/5 (four to five times greater than human) vision also have nearly double the field of view. With our eyes angled 30 degrees away from the midline of our faces like an eagle’s, we would see almost all the way behind our heads with a 340-degree visual field (compared to normal humans’ 180 degree field); this would confer a clear advantage in hunting and self-defense.”
This exploration has added a cybernetic comparison to human enhancement as an extension of our current capacity. For this to be even more cyborg-like, I think a live 360-degree feed directly to a monitor or screen that the user could control in real time would be the closest thing to an eagle eye transplant.
So, where to now? I’m going to continue the exploration into the 360-degree video unboxing as I’ve been building a knowledge base from various sources including YouTube tutorials, forums such as reddit and whirlpool as well as trial and error, all while filming “Stark” style videos that showcase the complete start from scratch approach I have. I hope to have a 360-degree video from the 6 GoPros and mount, and If time permits, I’ll attach it to the drone and do some tests there. The drone will be ready for when the 360 video works, otherwise I’ll build the camera expertise alone.
N Wolchover 2012, What if Humans had Eagle Vision?, Live Science, viewed 18th April 2016, <http://www.livescience.com/18658-humans-eagle-vision.html>
Rothstein, A 2011, Drone Ethnography, Rhizome, Blog, 20 July Viewed 13th April 2016, <http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/jul/20/drone-ethnography/>
Suchman, L. 2009, Connections: the double interface and constructing the cyborg body. 1st ed. ebook MIT OpenCourseWare, p.15. viewed 22 April 2016, Available at: <http://mitocw.eia.edu.co/courses/anthropology/21a-850j-the-anthropology-of-cybercultures-spring-2009/assignments/MIT21A_850Js09_sw01.pdf>
Chris Moore, 2016, #dronestories, prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 3rd May 2016, viewed 5th May 2016, <https://prezi.com/b9fp3pnjfqew/dronestories/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy>
Chris Moore, 2016, Cybercultures Week Two 2016 (w.2), Prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 8th March 2016, viewed 24th April 2016, < https://prezi.com/poqmln3hslyh/cybercultures-week-two-2016-w2/>
Small UAV coalition 2014, About us/Current Rules, Small Uav Coalition, viewed April 30th 2016, < http://www.smalluavcoalition.org/>
Fredrick Lardinois 2015, Talking Drones With 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson, Techcrunch, Viewed 30th April 2016, < http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/11/talking-drones-with-3drobotics-ceo-chris-anderson/>
Konstantin Kakaes 2015, Drone Regulation – Privacy and Property rights, PDF, New America, Chapter 3, viewed 2nd May 2016, < http://www.iapad.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/DronesAndAerialObservation.pdf#page=29>