Category: Columns

Things are looking up for a drone takeover

We’ve all seen them in the news: A drone lands on the White House lawn. Drone racing is the next sport of the modern age. Dutch police train eagles to attack surveillance drones. A drone is used to drop illegal drugs into an Ohio prison yard. Amazon plans to use drones to deliver packages. Google announces the use of suborbital drones to broadcast wifi to remote areas of the planet …

Unmanned aerial vehicles once were a small recreational niche but now are becoming the headlines of major stories in security, technology, sports and overall controversy. So what has caused such an accelerated market growth in these small, yet powerful devices?

Advancements in technology. The features and technology used in drones are rapidly developing, exceeding even the smartphone industry. It seems that every year, new devices hit the market with improved components and at a lower sticker price. Some drones now utilize 4K video recordings and have the ability to set GPS coordinates to accurately record precise footage and measurements. eHang, a Chinese company, is even testing an automated drone large enough to carry humans (for an entry price of $200,000 to $300,000). Much of this advancement in technology is driven by the consumers whom demand bigger and better products year after year.

Investments are booming. Despite an overwhelming increase in Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding the usage of UAVs, investments in drone conglomerates have grown exponentially over the past year. According to CB Insights, in 2015 drone startup companies raised more than $450 million, an increase of more than 300 percent versus 2014 data. A January report by BI Intelligence highlights more dramatic figures to consider:

• Projected revenues from drone sales could top $12 billion in 2021.

• Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years.

• Safety technologies such as geo-fencing and collision avoidance will relax FAA regulations and enable large numbers of drones to take to the sky.

• Sports markets have been stimulated by large investments for competitive drone-racing leagues.

Applications on the rise. Drones continue to fill the skies as demand continues to parallel the amount of manufacturers in the market. As technologies continue to develop, more industries are seeing plausible applications for drone usage. The commercial markets of agriculture, land management, energy, construction, and oil and gas all have found lucrative ways to utilize drones in their respective fortes. Large defense-focused manufacturers also are emerging as government and security entities begin to enter the market.

Expect to see drones trending through more facets of our economy as the year continues. As technology and applications continue to expand, the FAA and government agencies will continue to be pressured to regulate both the commercial and recreational usage of UAVs.

For the recreational enthusiasts: Use common sense when flying these devices for personal use.  Keep your drones under 400 feet in altitude, steer clear of airports, pedestrians and vehicles, and always keep your device in visual sight while operating.

Hans Broman, a sales and marketing strategist at iPoint in Fort Collins, can be reached at hbroman@ipoint-tech.com.

Put money back in your pocket with Web apps

Web applications are programs that use a remote server to deliver information through the Internet to a browser. Applications can be as minimal as a community message board or as complex as a program that runs entire daily business functions.  When you consider the time and energy saved by using Web-based applications, it’s clear that they actually can put money back in your pocket at the end of the day.

They improve employee productivity and efficiency, allow easy access to information and data online from any location at any time, improve interconnectivity with consumers and business partners, allow management of multiple business function and are easy to use and comprehend.

Web applications can be as simple or complex as the business chooses them to be. They also can start with a very basic structure and have additional functions added as needed.

The following examples highlight the differences between simple versus complex Web-based apps:

Google Calendar is a simple Web application. It allows users to quickly create events, such as “Client Meeting, 9 a.m, 123 Main St.,” and then populates an online calendar which can be accessed through the PC, phone, etc.

The best part of this application is the straightforward way that it helps users organize their schedule personally and with co-workers. Additionally, you can create different calendars to share with different people – a “kid’s calendar” versus a “business calendar.” You can view both the kid’s and business calendars at the same time, or you can deselect one calendar to focus on another. It is a very useful tool with a simple concept.

Complex web applications can manage entire daily business operations. Basecamp is a great example of a complex app. It is a project-management tool that helps users manage multiple projects with to-do lists, file sharing, messaging, event calendars and time tracking.

Using Basecamp enables employees to manage their time, tasks and projects in an organized way, making life a lot easier for business owners. While these complex applications often incur a much larger price tag, the ease of use that comes with them makes these programs a cost-effective tool when considering return-on-investment over the long haul.

Hans Broman, a sales and marketing strategist at iPoint in Fort Collins,
can be reached at
hbroman@ipoint-tech.com.