Spherical display drone synchronizes rotating LED strips

May 09, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Telecommunications giant NTT Docomo has developed a spherical drone display able to displays LED images on an omnidirectional spherical screen while in flight.

"Floating Sphere Drone Display" (source: NTT Docomo)

Designed as a lightweight structure, the drone comprises a spherical external frame as a cage holding an internal LED frame consisting of a series of eight curved LED strips joining the poles. The actual drone and its propellers are fitted inside the sphere, with its legs protruding underneath.

During flight, the LED frame spins on its axis, horizontally and the LEDs are controlled and synchronized so that an afterimage effect creates the illusion of a solid sphere of static LEDs. The drone display, with a spherical frame about 88cm in diameter, can be operated just like any other drone in venues such as concert halls or arenas where it can fly around as part of a performance or to deliver advertising messages and event information. The whole flying display weighs about 3.4kg, with a vertical resolution of 144 pixels for 136 pixels wide on one side of the horizontal circumference.

The display in flight (source: NTT Docomo).

Docomo explains that it was able to solve airflow issues and make the drone operational thanks to the largely hollow nature of the display, allowing air to flow through it while still achieving the illusion of a solid display (thanks to the rapidly spinning LEDs).

The floating sphere drone display is part of the "docomo Drone Project", exploring ways to combine aerial mobility and communications mobility in innovative solutions for logistics, messaging, entertainment and other fields.

The Nippon company aims to commercialize its spherical drone display in the fiscal year ending in March 2019, exploring potential entertainment and messaging solutions for event venues, including stadiums and concert halls.

NTT Docomo  - www.nttdocomo.co.jp