Japanese mobile services provider NTT DOCOMO Inc. has developed a spherical drone display: an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that displays LED images on an omnidirectional spherical screen while in flight.
The device comprises a spherical external frame and an internal LED frame consisting of a series of eight curved LED strips that extend from top to bottom, a drone fitted inside the sphere and legs protruding underneath. During flight, the LED frame spins on its axis in a rapid horizontal motion, forming an afterimage effect to create the illusion of a solid sphere of motionless LEDs.
According to DOCOMO, the highly maneuverable drone can be operated virtually anywhere, including venues such as concert halls or arenas, where it can fly around as part of a performance or deliver advertising messages.
The maximum diameter of the spherical frame is about 88 cm (roughly 35 inches), and the entire device, including the drone, weighs about 3.4 kg (rougly 7.5 lbs.).
DOCOMO notes that its solution uses a largely hollow, lightweight display that allows air to flow through it, yet it still achieves the illusion of a solid display by creating an afterimage effect with rapidly spinning LEDs.
DOCOMO aims to commercialize its spherical drone display in the fiscal year ending March 2019. Going forward, the company will explore potential entertainment and messaging solutions for event venues, including stadiums and concert halls.
Under its “DOCOMO Drone Project,” DOCOMO is exploring ways to combine aerial mobility and communications mobility in innovative solutions for logistics, messaging, entertainment and other fields.