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28 BUSINESS FEATURE: DRONES

February 2017

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Having made its debut at InfoComm 2015, the Drone Pavilion is fast becoming a fixture at major AV shows, having made two appearances in the USA and about to make a second at ISE in Amsterdam. Ian McMurray wonders if there’s something in the air

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rones – or unmanned aerial vehicles, if you prefer – have, let’s face it, had a pretty bad rap over recent years. The armed forces have been vilified for their use. They’re said to have caused numerous aviation nearmisses. And now, it seems, they’re being used to smuggle drugs and phones into prisons. Stampede, however – the company behind the Drone Pavilion at ISE, InfoComm and other trade shows – is convinced that drones have a real future in the AV industry. “We’ve returned to ISE because the reaction from European integrators and end users was overwhelmingly positive last year,” says Kevin Kelly, president and COO of Stampede. “If you come to our pavilion, you’ll immediately see the excitement in the eyes of the attendees. At ISE 2017 we’re showcasing an even broader range of drone offerings that span a larger range of applications, from the simple to the extremely complex.” He notes that Stampede’s network “is twice the size it was last year since our acquisition of Just Lamps”. However, some integrators don’t – yet – share Kelly’s enthusiasm.

Camera that can fly “I visited the Drone Pavilion at ISE 2016, and wasn’t convinced there was an opportunity,” notes Gareth Lloyd, group communications manager at integrator Saville Audio Visual. “I think people are trying to force the technology to be something it isn’t. I think one thing that is missed is that, to all intents and purposes, a drone is just a camera that can fly – so where would you need a camera that can fly in a typical AV integrated system? It’s not much use in a boardroom or a lecture theatre, I would suggest, and the existing technologies already tick the box quite nicely. “It’s definitely a case of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole,” he smiles. Lloyd is not the only sceptic. “From a network installation side, they would be useful to be able to view external cable routes over rooftops and so on that you normally can’t access on a site survey,” adds Derek Pyle, installation manager at CDEC. “With AV, I’m not sure what the application could be, since I can’t see any use on surveys.” Others, however, are intrigued by what drones might bring.

Key Points „ Drone legislation around the world is complex and in a state of flux, but is expected to achieve clarity in the coming months „ Any prospective drone operator needs to be intimately acquainted with where drones can and cannot be flown „ In the US at least, integrators are reportedly successfully expanding their solution offering with drone video systems „ There is already in place an infrastructure of expertise and support that is vital in enabling integrators to enter the drone market “The reason we haven’t got involved with drones so far is that they we couldn’t see how they might fit with our business model as an integrator,” explains Bryan Edwards, head of technical sales at Reflex. “However: as an organisation, we try to be very open-minded about what the future might hold so we have invited Stampede to support our end-user event


Installation February 2017 Digital Edition