Future-transforming ideas: putting drones in the wild

The MacLaren McCann team isn't monkeying around with this evolved zoo concept.

This story appears in the September 2014 issue of strategy.

With tech advancing at light speed, the limits in product innovation are being pushed faster than you can say 3D-printed food. And with new tech comes new opportunities, so we asked some creative minds (from inside and outside the industry) to come up with an idea for a new product or service a Canadian brand could produce. For inspiration, they were directed to the Cannes Lions and San Francisco-based AKQA’s Future Lions global student creative competition, which challenges entrants to create an idea that connects an audience “to a product or service from a global brand, in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago.”
From a closet that handles all your laundry needs to a virtual zoo, check back each day to see what our contributors came back with. Who knows, perhaps these brands will take note and develop these ideas into products. It could happen sooner than you think.

By MacLaren McCann

Zoos and other animal entertainment attractions (think Marineland) have been catching flak for years. People love watching animals but many find the typical zoo experience inhumane. The animals are held captive in confined spaces, far from their natural habitats. Who feels good about visiting places like that, even if it does keep the kids happy for a time?

Advances in drone and camera technology now allow for a richer, guilt-free experience. Instead of bringing the animals to where the people are, Disney can take the people to the animals. Virtually, that is. We will install small, non-invasive Bublcams in the wilderness where animals gather, feed, migrate and breed. The live images from these cameras will be accessible through a Disney 360-degree, real-time, 4K omni-channel experience, via any screen. We call it NuZu.

The cost of admission to this “natural” zoo will generate revenue, a portion of which will be donated to support the preservation work of the World Wildlife Fund.

The stationary camera posts will be augmented with drones that can be dispatched to follow specific animals or herds. Portable, lightweight cameras will be mounted on the drones to provide additional streaming footage, more dynamic angles and close-ups. Of course, life down at the watering hole is not always action-packed. While people wait for that grizzly bear to show at the salmon run, they’ll be able to access companion content about the animals. This has educational potential without disrupting the animals and their habitat – all for a good cause.

As the success of a project already using drones to monitor poaching shows, the NuZu will also help with the protection of endangered species. Someone’s always watching.

From left: MacLaren McCann’s Dave Stubbs, VP, group CD; Mike Halminen, SVP creative officer; Josh Haupert, VP, CD; Jack Neary, client development director; Duncan Porter, VP, group CD

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