Flone, a flying phone, is the winning project of the call Next Things 2013

Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro and Alexandre Oliver aim to make air space use accessible to citizens by providing them with the capacity to take photos or recordings with a smartphone

Published: Apr 16, 2013
Flone, a flying phone, is the winning project of the call Next Things 2013

Image of Flone, the flying phone project, according to the proposal made by the authors

Flone, the flying phone, a proposal by a team formed by multidisciplinary artist and computer engineer Lot Amorós, technical engineer Cristina Navarro, and industrial engineer Alexandre Oliver, has been selected as the winning project of Next Things 2013 – Next Space, the Second Global Art and Technology Challenge, the joint call for ideas by Telefónica I+D, the research, development and innovation company of the Telefónica Group, and LABoral.  The objective of this call is to link up art and technology and unleash the huge potential that lies in combining the creativity and vision of artists with powerful open hardware technologies.

Flone functions as a backpack for smartphones which turns the mobile phone into a stand-alone flying apparatus which can 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. The pack consists of a clip that locks the telephone which has a USB communication cable connected to it that connects to an Arduino IOIO board or Phonedrone. Initially it will only dispose of two degrees of freedom: to ascend, descend and rotate. Telephone sensors enable the Flone to be self-contained and perform a programmed task, such as rise to 20 metres, take a photograph and come down, or it can be remotely controlled by another smartphone with a wifi or 3G connection.

Its objective is to make air space accessible to everyone as a research platform, providing a range of applications for them to operate with a smartphone alone. The combination of its different sensors -camera, microphone, GPS, accelerometres and gyroscopes- actuators -LED flash and speaker- together with its telematic connections  -Bluetooth, Wifi and 3G-, transform Flone into a multimedia drone, a mobile communication unit that moves around in a new space: the public air.

In accordance with the authors of the project, its initial applications invite its use in sharing unreachable places at great heights, especially in outdoor sports like climbing, as well as in professional technology for cartography 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 film very crowded spaces such as festivals, sports gatherings or demonstrations by democratising the capture of aerial images.

Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro and Alexandre Oliver will develop their prototype in a six-month artist residency distributed into a four-month stay at Telefónica I+D centre in Barcelona and a two-month period at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gijón. Telefónica I+D will supply a space for work at its premises, with equipment and access to technological knowledge and the technological platform at Telefónica. For their part, LABoral will provide laboratory space, equipment and technical assistance, as well as access and exchanges with other artists and creators in the Centre along with accommodation in Gijón.

Next Things 2013– Next Space has been focused on public space and its appropriation and aimed to generate artistic proposals related to the goals of "locative media", expanding the concept of "media" to accommodate new media and technologies, particularly those dealing with the concept of "Internet of Things" and "M2M". It sought to reflect on the impact that both can have on people’s lives from an individual scale to entire societies.

The Flone project was selected out of the 42 proposals which were presented -twice as many as in the first edition- by a jury formed by Pablo Rodríguez (Telefónica I+D), Oriol Lloret (Telefónica I+D), Pere Obrador (Telefónica I+D), Ramón Sangüesa (Co-creating Cultures / UPC), Benjamin Weil (LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial), David Dalmazzo (LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial), David Pello (LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial), Alicia Vieira (ClusterTIC), and Mónica Bello (Artistic Director of  VIDA, Fundación Telefónica).

Telefónica is one of the world leaders integrated operator in the telecommunication sector, providing communication, information and entertainment solutions, with presence in Europe, Africa and Latin America. It operates in 25 countries and its total number of customers amounted to more than 313.8 million as of September 2012.

Telefónica I+D (R&D) is the research, development and innovation company of the Telefónica Group, currently integrated in Telefónica Digital. Founded in 1988, its mission is to contribute to the Group’s competitiveness and modernity through technological innovation. To achieve this aim, the company applies new ideas, concepts and practices in addition to developing products and advanced services. It is one of the first private R&D centres in Spain as regards activities and resources. The main asset of Telefónica I+D is its staff, which is 97% composed of university graduates from 18 different nationalities.

LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial is a multidisciplinary institution that produces, spreads and encourages access to new cultural forms rooted in the creative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The programme for 2013 of the Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gijón has been underpinned by strengthening the research and production of new work through artist residencies and work groups. LABoral will invite artists and developers to utilise the space and technical resources available to them, in many cases through public calls as on this occasion. New works will emerge from this which will subsequently be shown in the different exhibition rooms at LABoral as a precursor to their travelling to other national and international venues.

Plataforma 0 is the area of Production, Research and Resources at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial. It is constituted by a modular and flexible structure, intended for its functioning, and adapted to different programmes for work groups, individual creators and educators operating in the intersections between science, art, technology, creative industries and society.

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