Whenever a tech giant gobbles up another company, there’s always tons of speculation about what the tech giant has up its sleeves, and how the acquired company’s expertise will find its way into an actual product.
So when Google acquired high-altitude drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace in 2014, the tech world blew up with Google’s big plans of sending Internet drones to space. Those plans became much clearer today, following a Guardian report about another top secret Google project called SkyBender.
But let’s backtrack. To understand SkyBender it is imperative to understand Titan.
Titan has been known for its solar-powered super drones “Solara” which can function as atmospheric satellites. The unmanned aircraft can operate at 65,000ft (20 km) altitude about 50% higher than a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. At this height, the drone operates for up to 5 years independently and uninterrupted by weather patterns.
A single Solara drone uses thousands of solar cells producing enough energy to keep it flying. Each drone is equipped with lots of sensors opening up a range of possible use cases including acting as GPS replacement satellites in case of terror attacks or to produce real-time Google Map images that are always fresh and available on-demand.
More interesting to Google are the drones’ high-speed millimeter wave technology to deliver Internet 40 times faster than 4G/LTE which is even faster than what might become 5G. The problem of millimeter wave technology is its range as it spans only a short distance before fading out creating a unique challenge.
This is where Google’s new secret project “SkyBender” comes in. Project SkyBender could make Google a global Internet provider using Titan’s drone technology together with a new wave-spectrum completely different from today’s clogged cellphone spectrum.
Since last summer several high-tech drones have been built together with a “pilot optional” aircraft called Centaur and are now tested at Spaceport America located in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico.
You might remember Virgin Galactic, the ambitious commercial space travel project of Virgin Airline founder Richard Branson which operates from Spaceport America. Google is currently renting a hanger from Virgin Galactic and pays the Spaceport America a monthly fee.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) licensed the testing of the new millimeter-wave drone-based technology until July 2016. It has yet to be seen where the project will evolve from there.
Before Google, the U.S. military had been testing a similar drone-based technology to provide high-speed connectivity for troops in remote areas.
This isn’t the company’s first foray into providing Internet to remote areas from above. Back in 2013, Google announced its Project Loon initiative that involves sending up hundreds if not thousands of Internet balloons into the stratosphere, bringing Internet to areas that were previously unconnected.
Who doesn’t dream of buffer-free Netflix anywhere on earth?
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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro officially launch in the Philippines
The best compact drones in the market right now
Less than a month from its official announcement, DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro have officially arrived in the Philippines through ICT company MSI-ECS. These drones offer the latest technologies seen in a quadcopter and aim to bring aerial videography to new heights.
As a quick recap, both new drones shoot 4K video at up to 100 megabits per second — meaning it can capture high-quality footage. DJI also equipped the Mavic 2 with its own 8GB internal storage in case you forget your memory cards at home. They have more sensors for obstacle avoidance and boast improved battery life (31 minutes versus the older 27 minutes). They’re also a lot quieter than previous models.
The Mavic 2 Zoom is the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capabilities. This way, you can get up close to your subject (like wildlife, for example) while maintaining your distance, so you won’t disturb them in their habitat.
It can also perform a dolly zoom by flying backward while zooming in. This produces a vertigo effect that renowned filmmakers use in movies.
On the other hand, the Mavic 2 Pro is the first drone with a camera co-engineered with Hasselblad — a leading brand in medium format photography. It carries a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile which translates to a professional-grade image with a lot of tweaking possibilities during post-production.
The Mavic 2 Pro shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K UHD videos, has support for 4K 10-bit HDR, and can switch between f/2.8 to f/11 apertures depending on the lighting condition. Think of it as your professional aerial equipment that folds up and can fit inside a small bag.
Pricing in the Philippines will start at PhP 76,300 for the Mavic 2 Zoom and PhP 98,800 for the Mavic 2 Pro. Going for the Fly More bundle which includes extra batteries, propellers, and other accessories will come at an extra cost just like the previous iteration.
DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom reinvent aerial storytelling
Awesome shots made super easy
The release of DJI’s Mavic Pro back in 2016 opened fresh opportunities for videographers as it was able to combine professional-grade output with portability — two elements that usually don’t go together in the filming world.
There have been other iterations that followed suit; mostly improving image quality and making the blades quieter. Although after two years, a fitting follow-up has been released. They come in two forms: the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.
Apart from shooting 4K video at up to 100 megabits per second, these two models now have a built-in storage of 8GB and are, of course, expandable via a microSD slot. They are equipped with more sensors than the first generation for more accurate obstacle avoidance and have improved battery life (31 minutes versus the older 27 minutes).
The drones also have new tricks up their sleeves in the form of intelligent features. One feature to look forward to is Hyperlapse. You can choose from among its different modes like Free, Circle, or Course Lock and you’ll be able to capture a cool time-lapse (as seen above) ready for sharing on different platforms.
Mavic 2 Pro
The Mavic 2 Pro is proud to hold the title as the world’s first drone with a camera co-engineered with Hasselblad, which is the leading brand in medium format photography.
For a more detailed look, it carries a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and with that tandem, DJI claims it can capture four times as many levels of color per channel compared to its predecessor. The new drone can shoot photos and videos with a promise of churning out utmost color accuracy thanks to Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution technology.
It shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K UHD videos, has support for 4K 10-bit HDR, and can switch between f/2.8 to f/11 apertures depending on the lighting condition. Think of it as your professional aerial equipment that folds up and can fit inside a small bag.
Mavic 2 Zoom
On the other hand, the Mavic 2 Zoom sports a smaller 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor but is the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capabilities. This was made possible by combining two times optical zoom (24-48mm) with two times digital zoom to simulate a 96mm telephoto lens.
It only shoots 12-megapixel photos like the first Mavic Pro, but it has a fresh new feature called Super Resolution that we’ve seen in smartphones. It captures and stitches nine photos to produce a detailed 48-megapixel image.
If that still doesn’t impress you, one feature exclusive to the Mavic 2 Zoom is the Dolly Zoom mode. It basically creates a vertigo effect that filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock popularized.
The Mavic 2 Pro starts at US$ 1,449 for the basic package while the Mavic 2 Zoom comes as a more affordable option at US$ 1,249.
Paradise captured by the DJI Mavic Air
Many consider Baler to be paradise. A haven for those jaded by city life, the place offers a quiet escape for people who want to dip their toes in sand and sea or a chance to conquer the waters by learning to ride the wave. What better way to capture it than through the bird’s eye view of the DJI Mavic Air.
The DJI Mavic Air was officially launched a few months back but has only made its way to the Philippines recently. Compact but not lacking in features, it’s the perfect companion for travelers who want to capture the beauty of the archipelago. In a DJI Mavic Air bootcamp, members of the media learned that flying this drone is relatively easy but it does require some practice — just like learning how to ride waves in the beaches of Baler. You’ll need patience and perseverance but there’s nothing stopping you once you figure it out.
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