The innovative inflatable drone known as the Skye is turning a lot of heads at the CeBIT 2016 tech conference in Germany this week.
Designed by engineers at the European startup Aerotain, the Skye can be outfitted with an internal projector to display moving images on the balloon's skin, turning it into a kind of futuristic, 360-degree flying billboard.
Display Tech Promises Giant, 3-D Billboards
About three meters in diameter, the Skye is rigged with four internal motors that can be remotely controlled, much like a typical quadcopter. That allows an operator to maneuver and spin the balloon in a variety of ways. But because the fan propellers are enclosed, the Skye can descend into crowds and be safely bopped around like a giant space-age beach ball.
Finally, the Skye can be outfitted with standard camera drone video equipment. The remote motor system provides full omnidirectional control. Depending on weather conditions - and how much optional gear it's carrying - the Skye has a flight time of about two hours on a single charge.
Here Boy! Dog Adoption Ad Follows You Around
This latest iteration of the Skye comes after several years of development by the Aerotain team, who originally came together while working on the Skye as a graduate project at ETH Zurich.
Fans of the classic sci-fi thriller "Blade Runner" can surely see where all this is headed. Those who remember the British TV show "The Prisoner" may be having flashbacks as well. The future, clearly, is now.
Here's an early demo video of the Skye system in action.