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NTT Docomo develops flying spherical drone display

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Drones seem to be finding a purpose in a growing number of areas, including military surveillance, autonomous deliveries, and a diverse range of consumer drones. But now there's another area where drones could become popular: public video displays.

NTT Docomo is best known as a Japanese mobile network operator, but it also dabbles in a number of other business areas include hardware R&D. The latest device to come out of its research labs is a drone that doubles as a spherical video display.

It's called the Floating Sphere Drone Display and it consists of a fairly typical drone surrounded by an LED-covered frame. When in flight, the frame spins at high speed allowing the LEDs attached to it to act as a display outputting video. As far as the viewer is concerned, all they see is a sphere displaying video while flying or floating above them.

NTT Docomo believes the Sphere Drone will be of interest to advertisers who want to grab the attention of people passing by below. But they also see a use for the drone at live shows and in concert halls where typically it's hard to see what's going on unless you're right at the front near the stage.

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For now, the Sphere Drone is just a working prototype. However, according to Nikkei Technology, NTT Docomo wants to offer it as a commercial drone in 2018. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them scale it up to offer larger spherical displays, or have multiple Sphere Drones working together to output scrolling text etc.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.