It’s time for an opinion, I have thoughts on a segment of the drone market that I think is really cool, but I still don’t understand. Perhaps you can help convince me of their value, but at this time, I don’t understand the idea behind augmented reality drone racing games.

In this thought experiment, I will discuss Edgybees game along with the Epson Moverio smart glasses and DJI drones.

Forgive me a moment to backtrack, augmented reality is really cool. I spent some time with Epson again, with their Moverio smart glasses, at InterDrone 2017, they are a little out of my personal budget right now else I would own a set.

I understand augmented reality, especially in the drone space. VR goggles are truly immersive, but they break that line-of-sight that is so crucial to flying outdoors. Being able to put flight telemetry and other important data into view while actually keeping an eye on your drone is priceless, I think AR has a serious future for drone pilots.

I also understand games. Gamifying things is a long proven great thing to do. In this case, let’s talk drone racing. I imagine being in my VR goggles, doing my best to not crash a racing drone while going around a track. Augmenting that experience could be software that turns my course into a sort of Mario Cart race track, scattering coins and bananas virtually across my path. Or other random additions to the world around you.

So far, all is well. Notice, however, that I paint a picture of virtually augmenting something that I am already doing, in order to make it more fun.

Enter Edgybees. Their AR gaming systems have been around for a few months now. They look like great fun, but they leave me wondering why.

Education and flight training are great tools, I can accept that, but that can’t be all, can it?

The catch

I imagine heading to the local park to find a drone pilot having some fun. Awesome to see. When I step back to watch what they are doing with their drone though, I see just a bit of madness in the air. A photographer with a camera drone usually flies as smooth and steady as can be. A racer or toy drone pilot usually sets a course or otherwise interacts with the drone. This pilot, however, just has a jerky drone bouncing up and down, going in circles in the air with no apparent goal in mind.

I’m not judging, you fly how you want to fly, I just want you to have fun.

Then I realize it’s a game.

Instead of the augmentation adding virtual aspects to a real world flight, this game leads the drone nowhere, not really. What I mean, specifically, you could be flying indoors, outside, on a cliff, at a park, or wherever, it matters not to the game. That is when I realize that you could, therefore, be sitting on a couch without a drone at all, you’re just playing a video game!

To be clear, I’m all for flight simulators. They are amazing tools to learn on, and entirely safe if anything goes wrong. I love flying drones without simulation, just me, the joysticks and a craft in the air that gracefully responds to my commands. Or, you know, sputters around because I’m not actually that good.

I am left feeling that there is no point to the entire experience except to say you did it. Well, as my favorite chaos theorist would say, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Conclusion

Forgive me, I mean no harm to any of the parties involved. The Edgybees software is really great, it’s educational and fun. The Movario glasses are also great, adding a small digital window into your real world. Drones are a great use for that augmentation, but I can think of hundreds of other practical uses.

My goal with this opinion piece is simple, the groundwork is done, Edgybees proves the hardware is ready for amazing integration, so what comes next? You fly drones, you probably play video games and you likely do other things in your world. I want to know what you would do if you were adding augmentation to your drone experience.

Hit us up in the comments below, what’s your augmented reality drone flying dream experience? For those of you that are upset I don’t understand the cool experience in front of me, you can hit the comments too, what am I missing?

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