Docomo to Commercialize World’s First Spherical LED Drone Display

Docomo, Japan’s largest telecommunication company with its name meaning in Japanese ‘Anywhere (can be connected)’, developed the world’s first spherical drone equipped with LED strips that can display images using the afterimage effect when in air.

When it comes to display technology, we often have in mind an image of a flat panel, thick or thin, that emits light of colors to show images. The panel does not have to be flat-can be curved, but we just perceive it somehow has to be a screen anyway. Docomo, with its new LED drone display, might change that thinking.

(Image: Docomo)

The whole structure of the spherical drone consists of four parts: a spherical external frame, eight vertical curved LED strips that form an internal frame, the drone itself at the core of the sphere, and a silver pentagram stand with legs protruding from each point. While in flight, the internal LED frame rapidly spins on its own axis in a horizontal motion to create an illusion of a spherical LED screen with an afterimage effect.

(Image: Docomo)

A spherical LED display is not a new concept but a flying one definitely is. With that mobility, Docomo’s LED drone display can be used at a myriad of locations including plazas, arenas, stadium, concert halls, and sports courts. It can carry visual content or messages intended for the audience. In that way, it can be operated literally anywhere. The diameter of the external frame is around 88 cm and the entire body of the drone is weighted merely 3.4 kg. It can display images of 144 pixels high and 136 pixels wide.

Docomo intends to commercialize the spherical LED drone display by March 2019 after it solves a few challenges to make it better. The company will have to overcome the problems that the airflow of the drone’s propellers is interfered by the LED strips as they spin. It has to reduce the volume of the noise especially when operating the drone at a quite place or in concert halls where the noise is not desired, and extend the flight time to be long enough as it is required to be.  

(Video: Latest News)

It is quite mesmerizing that Docomo is able to combine drone technology and lighting technology, plus a bit of optics, to create a mobile LED display. With the drone’s role as a part of communication, Docomo will possibly keep exploring new solutions that realize innovative communication. 

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