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“Dronies” and the Flipping of a Conversation

This time last year, drones were a hot topic of conversation. The discussion focused on the military use of drones, which lead to widespread negative sentiment among the general public. It was also around this time that frog started exploring the positive potential of drones as a personal device for everyday people.

Our exploration of personal drones generated over two-dozen different concepts. Some of these concepts ranged from niche uses to large-scale infrastructure to support flying machines. We refined two of the concepts and released them into the world. One concept, Guardian Angel, is a drone for fitness. Flying alongside a runner, this drone provides safety, higher visibility, and real-time pacing. The other concept, Paparazzi, channels our selfie-obsessed society into an automated, flying life-logger.

Image created by Jenny Savage

Image created by Jenny Savage

There were mixed responses to these drones. There was optimism surrounding the potential of the fitness drone. The response to the personal paparazzi drone was not as positive: “I love the paparazzi! Wonderful satirical invention. It is satire, right? Please tell me it’s satire…”

A few weeks ago The New York Times published an article on an emerging trend titled, “How To Take The Ultimate Drone Selfie.” It highlighted the beautiful possibilities of using a drone to capture impossible portraits. Other sites picked up on the trend and began calling these photos “Dronies.”

In less than a year, the conversation flipped. As people around the world continue to use drones in fun and novel ways, support for drones will grow. In the near future, drones will be one of the biggest platforms for innovation. With that in mind, frog has begun to outline a set of user experience principles to apply to all types of flying machines.

User experience principles guide designers as they craft new experiences. They remind designers throughout their process of those who will use the product. For drones, we focused on the different levels of interaction between people and drones. Our principles start at the interaction between a person and a drone, both the utility and the emotion of the interaction. They then expand out to other major touch points, from our immediate surroundings to the infrastructure of a city.

Before long, we will all have some first-hand interactions with drones; they will fill the sky and be available to do our bidding. Design will take flight to ensure our drone-filled future is an experience we desire.

frog Interaction Designers Adam Pruden and Eric Boam will speak on drones in the talk, “Design Takes Flight” at DATA 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA May 8.

Eric Boam

Eric is an avid quantifier of my life, data-viz enthusiast, and a music zealot, pursuing how they intersect. He frequently thinks about data of all sizes and the future.

Adam Pruden

Adam leverages his architectural background to conceptualize, speak and write about potential applications for airborne technologies and their impact on society.

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