Drone Experiences

An emerging technology that feels like it has the potential to offer some interesting experiences for specific installations is the drone. One example of the capabilities of these devices is this home movie of Niagara Falls created by a drone owner.





Some opportunities we in the museum field might explore with drones include giving visitors access to places they can’t physically explore and providing rare or inaccessible viewpoints. Just last week, while we were in the Pacific Northwest, the Woodland Park Zoo staff (avid readers of this blog) sent us an invitation to discuss their philosophy and approach to interpretation. The Zoo has award-winning experiences within large natural environments that mix species as they would be mixed in their natural ecosystems. The downside of this approach is that, at times, the animals are far away from the visitors.  One of the ideas we brainstormed involved drones: Imagine letting visitors fly a drone out to find animals and observe them from a distance.

In addition to their function as remote viewers, drones also offer interesting insights into robotics, and they can provide excellent maker/tinkering opportunities. They offer a way for mobile device and their cameras to be used. Finally, they also provide a timely, relevant, and accessible experience through which to spark discussions about societal issues of technology, privacy, and information access.

Drones seem to be a ripe technology and medium for experience prototyping and designs.

We would love to hear your ideas about how drones might be used. Share your thoughts here.

Posted in: Experiences and Museums

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6 Responses


  1. Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


    We used a helicam/drone for the introductory video we’re making for the C3TEC science center in Puerto Rico. We got delightful arial footage of all kinds of things: little league baseball teams playing; neighborhood rooftops, rain forest canopy, rivers and waterfalls. A team of two professionals operated the helicam, one to remotely control the view of the camera, and one to remotely control the flight of the specially designed little helicopter it’s connected to.

    While the scenario you describe sounds really cool, two drawbacks to the technology as it stands now would make it difficult for zoos to use it that way. 1) Batteries last about 7 minutes so operators need to keep an eye on the time or it falls out of the sky, as it did the last morning we were filming. Fortunately there were no people or animals beneath it. With the technology as it stands right now, it would be dangerous for visitors to operate such equipment. 2) It’s a noisy little thing and would most definitely drive animals under cover.

    • wayne
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink


      Certainly we know there are limitations currently. What we are suggesting is that these devices should become part of the technology we prototype and that drones offer new opportunities. It won’t be overnight but we should play with them and see what we can do.


      • wayne
        Posted August 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Cool, question would be how to limit the approach to animals.


  2. Posted August 27, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Wayne,

    Are you familiar with the BeetleCam? –

    I think that it could be a good addition to flying drones for the kind of zoo experience that you describe. The photos that they have captured are quite remarkable.

    Cheers, rob

  3. Posted September 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Love this video and the idea. We are currently working on an update to one of our exhibits where the visitors can control a video with a wheel. Allowing the images to move fast, slow, forward and reverse. This video would be a great addition to that exhibit. Who would I need to talk to in order to see about getting release for such a video or similar ones?

    • wayne
      Posted September 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink


      I suggest you go to the YouTube site where it is posted and try to contact the film maker


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