IBM demos an employee hack for gathering live video data via drone

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IBM developer Andy Trice popped by the TechCrunch New York offices to demo a hack he’s been working on in his spare time, utilizing the company’s cloud computing platform and off-the-shelf drone hardware from DJI.

The system, which started as a pet project for Trice, is able to gather and transmit data in real-time, offering up such useful contextual information as precise location (latitude, longitude, altitude), compass heading, and the pitch of the camera.

“Think of an insurance adjuster,” says Trice. “You want to use the aircraft to get aerial imagery that otherwise could have been a lot harder to obtain. If they’ve have an accident or a flood, it can be documented in the air. Previously they would have to go to an aerial photographer. It could be months before they got the footage back and it could cost a fair amount.”

Along with such relatively straightforward contextual data, the system also utilizes OpenWhisk to access Watson’s Visual Recognition, identifying elements from the photo in real-time, a tool that could prove useful for surveillance drones tasked with recording a large amount of video over long stretches.