A new study from UK-based Juniper Research has found that the falling cost of drones, the increased number of players in the nascent drone market and a growing number of use cases are all aligning to ensure that drones, while still novel and relatively rare today, are likely to become commonplace and affordable sooner than you might think. Juniper expects drone sales to climb from less than four million units this year to more than 16 million per annum by 2020.
The new research, entitled “Drones: Consumer & Commercial Applications, Regulations & Opportunities 2015-2020“, says usage is already extending beyond the core base of hobbyists, thanks to lower prices and an increasing range of applications, particularly around live streaming of still images and video.
“With the advent of AR (Augmented Reality) likely to become prevalent on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in the near future, this will open up further opportunities for innovation in applications for both the consumer and commercial sectors alike,” the company says in a press release about the findings.
At the same time, while companies like DJI “currently dominate the mid-priced and prosumer UAV market” a growing number of manufacturers are producing even cheaper products and targeting the lower end of the market. These newcomers include companies that make radio-controlled model aircraft, like China’s Syma Toys and Hubsan. Other players entering the market include photographic hardware manufacturers like action-camera maker, GoPro.
However, the research also found that security and privacy issues are set to become more pressing alongside this growth in drone usage. Because drones use unlicensed, Wi-Fi spectrum and rely heavily on GPS than run the risk of being hacked — either in terms of being commandeered or having their data feeds intercepted.
Then there are the privacy concerns. Drones create enormous potential for invasion of privacy, from “snooping, spying and stalking [to] criminal surveillance of property”.
If you’d like to know more you can download the Juniper Research’s whitepaper on the topic, entitled “Game of Drones“. In the meantime, best we brace ourselves for busier skies, and think twice before sunbathing in the buff.