A drone launches from the USS Lassen.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “drones”? Military spy planes—or sophisticated toys cultivated by a growing group of DIY enthusiasts? The ingredients that go into an unmanned aerial vehicle, such as autopilot technology, GPS, and cameras, have grown small enough to fit on a toy plane and cheap enough for amateurs to buy, in part because these electronics are also integral components of smartphones.
On the Wired Danger Room blog, Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of the magazine, predicts the rise of the personal drone industry.
Why? The reason is the same as with every other digital technology: a Moore’s-law-style pace where performance regularly doubles while size and price plummet. In fact, the Moore’s law of drone technology is currently accelerating, thanks to the smartphone industry, which relies on the same components—sensors, optics, batteries, and embedded processors—all of them growing smaller and faster each year. Just as the 1970s saw the birth and rise of the personal computer, this decade will see the ascendance of the personal drone. We’re entering the Drone Age.
What’s the News: Your phone can now be a credit card, thanks to Google Wallet, announced yesterday with great fanfare. With this system, when you swipe your phone over a sensor, a near-field communication (NFC) chip gives the merchant your credit card information. You punch in your PIN, and: cha-ching.
Google has partnered with 20,000 companies who will take payments this way, including Macy’s, American Eagle, and Subway.
What’s the News: Despite Apple’s recent lawsuit against Amazon’s use of the term “Appstore,” Amazon successfully began selling applications for the Google Android smart phone yesterday. The launch unveiled two previously unmentioned perks: a free-app-of-the-day promotion and a feature called Test Drive that allows users to try apps on Amazon’s website before buying them.
What’s the Context:
Not So Fast: As some tech gurus note, Amazon’s app-purchasing process is confusing for some people, and involves bypassing the Android Market and allowing “third-party apps to be installed from outside sources.” Confusion aside, this process could make you vulnerable to viruses as well.
The Future Holds: Amazon says it will soon integrate its apps into its recommendation engine, allowing you to see apps that may be relevant to you just like you can see suggested books. There’s still no official news as to whether Amazon’s Kindle will eventually be able to run the Android operation system.