Burning Man – Interactivity In a Non-interactive World.

republished from Cvent

Look up in the sky…it’s a bird..it’s a plane…nope it’s just a drone. That may be a normal refrain at events in the future and that may be a great thing. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as drones, RC airplanes, etc., are being used more and more by planners and attendees. A great example of this is Burning Man 2013, the annual arts festival/party in the Nevada desert.growing role of the ATM

At Burning Man 2012, a range of UAVs were used by attendees to take pictures and video. This raised concerned about privacy as well as being an overall nuisance to the event experience. As a response, Burning Man organizers convened the first ever Black Rock City Drone Summit. Some 40 people attended the summit in person, with another 100 teleconferencing in. The Summit worked to draft “best practices” for UAVs at Burning Man was modeled on those adopted by the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The entire list of guidelines is here, and the highlights are posted on the Burning Man blog. Legally speaking, there is no way to prosecute any violators if UAVs are doing creepy or annoying acts. However, they sure can be knocked down.

With that said, the magic of Burning Man lies in the experience and interaction, which cannot quite be captured in photos or videos. It is, however, a way to create new services and experiences for attendees. The interplay between mobile apps and UAVs can create a mixed-platform interactive experience that can cover pre-event, event and post-event activities. This is another way that the mobile app can help planners to use events as a doorway for humans and machines alike to interact with you. Burning Man is surely not the first event to use UAVs but it is creating a structure via “best practices” for interactivity to thrive. Such policy may stifle technology in the short-term but an eventual tie-in between UAVs and the mobile experience may start to become an important component of everyday human semiotics at events.

At the moment, UAVs are used for purely recreational purposes but creating a useful experience for all attendees through the mobile device would take events to another level. Parched in the desert?…let a UAV bring you a bottled water or even first aid; care for some food at a festival…let a UAV airdrop a burger and fries to you…that’s only the beginning. Mobile apps that communicate with UAVs can clearly play a role in the formation of meaning around a shared human experience such as Burning Man. Turning theory into very practical, monetizable features or product implementations will be the next step.

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