The Maker Faire in Bilbao hosted a demonstration of Flone, the winning flying mobile of the call Next Things 2013

The prototype is being developed by Lot Amorós and Cristina Navarro in an artist residency at LABoral

Published: Jul 12, 2013
The Maker Faire in Bilbao hosted a demonstration of Flone, the winning flying mobile of the call Next Things 2013

Lot Amorós during the demonstration at Bilbao. Photo: Cristina Navarro

Flone, an interface that enables smartphones to fly, which was the winning project of the call Next Things 2013 – Next Space, the Second Global Art and Technology Challenge, the joint call by  Telefónica I+D [R+D] and LABoral, will perform its first public flights this Saturday 13 July at the Bilbao Mini Maker Faire.

Lot Amorós, who along with Cristina Navarro has been developing the Flone prototype at LABoral in an artist residency since last 4 June, will participate this Saturday from 4 pm onwards in a round table where he will show the progress made on its development during her residency at Plataforma 0. Production Centre.

Maker Faire is the largest fair of inventors and creators in the world, a showcase of inventions, creativity and resourcefulness intended for all audiences, and a celebration of the Maker movement. At its different editions, participants show their creations and share their knowledge with those who want to learn. Bilbao has obtained one of the first licenses to run a Mini Maker Faire in the south of Europe.

Flone is connected to an internal research project at LABoral, TheDrone, which is being developed throughout this year, in which automated flying apparatus known as UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) are being designed and fabricated using electronics and open source software. In effect, this Maker Faire will also hold various workshops on Saturday and Sunday in which David Pello, Coordinator of fabLAB Asturias, will introduce the attendants to the construction of drones.

The Residency and a specific blog
Flone works as if it were a backpack for smartphones which turns the mobile phone into a stand-alone flying apparatus and enables it to go up to a height of 20 metres from the ground, come down, rotate and carry out other programmed tasks, such as taking photographs or video recordings.

In accordance with the authors of this project, its initial applications invite it to be used to share unreachable places at great heights, especially in outdoor sports like climbing, as well as in professional technology for map making and in scanning three-dimensional facades given its ability to take photographs at different heights or make 360º panoramas. Flone will also introduce new settings in artistic photography with self-photography from new perspectives or the filming of very crowded spaces such as festivals, sports gatherings or demonstrations by democratising the capture of images and the use of aerial space.

At Plataforma 0. Production Centre at LABoral Lot Amorós and Cristina Navarro have focused their work on developing the physical part of Flone, experimenting with various flight platforms, both with the smartphone positioned horizontally – the design of which is more advanced at the moment -  and vertically. The horizontal platform is a five-millimetre wooden structure in the shape of an “H” where the telephone and four brushless motors are placed which act as a support. In terms of software, they are working on both the development of the Android application and also on flight control code. In this first stage, a multiwii flight controller is being used which is based on Arduino and a generic Android app for video recording.

Developed under the Creative Commons license, its authors share their progress on the internet on a specific web page:

In addition, materials for building the latest version of this platform can be downloaded from the Flone website on thingiverse.

Following their stay at LABoral, Lot Amorós and Cristina Navarro, who work in the Aeracoop collective, will be joined by the third member of the author team of this project, Alexandre Oliver, and they will spend four months at the Telefónica I+D centre in Barcelona. During this second stage, they will have Telefónica I+D’s technologists as mentors, who will introduce them to programming mobile applications, video transmission and machine to machine. Also, they will have the opportunity to learn about innovation activities in this company’s drones and access their Physical Internet Lab, which will benefit the prototype they are producing.

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