Is Drone Racing the Next Consumer Fad? Game of Drones Hopes So

Game of Drones wants to move drones out of the hands of hobbyists into the mass market with a hard-to-destroy, easy-to-fly racing drone

2 min read
Is Drone Racing the Next Consumer Fad? Game of Drones Hopes So
Photo: Game of Drones

Marque Cornblatt, CEO of San Francisco-based Game of Drones, sees a lot of “pain points” in today’s drones. (In startup speak, “pain points” means “problems”.) They’re expensive, they’re hard to learn to fly, and they’re fragile, he says.

So last year, Game of Drones got a hard-to-destroy drone body (with no motor or electronics on board) to market via a successful Kickstarter campaign. This drone kit was targeted at hobbyists who know enough about drones to build them, and wanted to engage in drone combat—or at least not have to repair their drones after crashes. The drone body sells for $140. The company then added complete build-a-drone kits for $400 to $700 to its offerings.

Next year, Game of Drones will move beyond kits for do-it-yourselfers and bring out a ready-to-fly racing drone, Cornblatt said last week, speaking to a crowd of investors, journalists, and other entrepreneurs attending the Highway 1 accelerator’s demo day. The Flow State Tantrum, or FST, will be designed for people who want to use a drone right out of the box.

The under-$500 gadget will have a built-in camera that sends video to a handheld controller or to virtual reality glasses; the viewpoint will make the user feel like he’s in the drone’s cockpit, Cornblatt says. The controller will have all the smarts needed to set up and operate the drone—no separate computer necessary. And the system will require the user to complete a series of “flight school” lessons before turning over complete control, so “you don’t immediately crash your drone onto the White House lawn,” he says. A flight simulator built into the controller will allow drone enthusiasts to practice their flying skills without even putting the drone into the air.

Cornblatt thinks drone racing, and other drone games, are going to be a huge market, and may even turn drone gaming into a spectator sport, as has happened with video gaming, or “e-sports.”

Cornblatt had mockups of the FST on hand at Highway 1’s demo day, but refused to let them be photographed; they are smaller than Game of Drones current models, measuring 280 mm (about 11 inches) across.  The company expects the FST to be officially introduced this fall. 

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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