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Keevio Eye: A WebRTC Drone

May 12, 2015

The TADHack mini hackathon, which took place in London earlier this week, focused on WebRTC. These hacks demonstrated the power of telecom application development that included controlling drones in the English country side to start-ups discovering and rapidly extending their applications and services to all phones and innovative teaching applications using WebRTC.

ipcortex is a British company which develops and markets leading communication systems. It is also the company that put together the keevio eye hack for TADHack. keevio extends sophisticated unified communications (UC) and multimedia functionality to the Web browser, which allows you to contact anyone, on any device, from anywhere. The idea is to enjoy effortless multimedia conversations, collaboration and conferencing with colleagues and customers without the use of special software.

ipcortex had recently thought about using a Raspberry Pi security camera for their bike shed. This quickly turned into an idea for the hackathon. Would it be possible to use their JavaScript API, running on a Raspberry Pi strapped to the bottom of a quad copter feeding live video via WebRTC?

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a low-cost microcomputer that is able to run Linux. Using Raspberry Pi, one could build a low-cost (under $50) HD video surveillance camera with global access from any browser.

So why not attach it to the bottom of a quad copter? Matt Preskett is one of ipcortex’s lead developers and he was tasked with making WebRTC on a drone work. According to Preskett, “After getting the Pi installed the first thing was to get Chromium to recognize the camera. Chromium talks to video devices through the V4L component of Linux.” Chromium is an open-source browser project designed to build a safer, faster and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the Web.

Image via Shutterstock

Preskett created a JavaScript using ipcortex’s  API and was able to keep it, as he said, “short and sweet.” The goal was to be able to serve everything over https, the reason being that while he was in Buckinghamshire operating the quad copter, his colleague was in London.

After putting all the hardware and software pieces together through the use of zip ties and self-adhesive pads they were able to get clean video at a distance of over 400 feet and they were still receiving video at twice that distance. You can get a quick feel of keevio eye in action by watching the video clip.

So now that we know that it is possible to create and program a quad copter with an HD video system that will cost in the neighborhood of about $35, will everyone download Preskett’s JavaScript and create their own WebTRC drone in the sky?

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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