TechWreck: The TGI Friday’s Mistletoe Drone

‘Tis the season, and this year, restaurant chain TGI Friday’s has been trying to add a little holiday merriness—with a serious misuse of drones.

The restaurant chain meant well. It first rolled out the mistletoe-carrying drone program in the UK a month ago in an attempt to “help people get a little closer at this time of year”. The drones also carry cameras to take pictures of the kissing couples, who are then rewarded with gift certificates for their PDA and holiday spirit.

After seeing initial positive feedback, the company quickly brought the drones across the Atlantic, hoping to spread some holiday kisses across the States. But alas, it was right here in New York City that the mistletoe drone drew its first blood. Georgine Benvenuto, a photographer from Brooklyn Daily, was in the Sheepshead Bay TGI Friday’s when she was unfortunately hit in the face by a flying drone. The blades kept spinning and blood was shed.

Although an isolated incident, this accident points to a larger problem with the commercial use of drones. When it comes to using unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs) like this in public space, brands need to carefully weigh issues like practicality, safety, and privacy before deploying them as stunt marketing. The bottom line here is, drones can be used in many productive ways, but delivering mistletoes in a busy restaurant is probably not one of them.


Image from the YouTube Video TGI Fridays Launch #Togethermas Mistletoe Drones

A Drone’s Eye View – The Only Way To Explain Burning Man To A Virgin

It’s around about this time of year that a lot of people ask what Burning Man is like: Who are the main acts? What do you do all day? What do you bring? Did you shower?

Um… the thing is, it’s extremely difficult to provide answers… which is in itself possibly the most infuriating response you can give. And this is because every person’s experience of Burning Man is so subjective, to the point that almost everything documented about Burning Man will always feel wrong or desperately lacking in the view of most other “Burners.”

With the advent of camera-armed mobile devices, there are certainly plenty of ways for individuals to record their specific experiences. But this also poses a conflict for Burners, who are constantly torn between the need to capture the moment vs. trying to be in it and simply enjoy it. The technical term for this (which results in something suitably painful-sounding) is digiphrenia– the “schizophrenic cacophony of divided attention and temporal disconnection.”

At the Lab, we talk often about how mobile is simply a bridging technology to a more convenient future where we will wear our tech, diminishing the need to capture the moment “in some crude or clumsy way,” as put in a post-Burn downer Techcrunch piece entitled: “The Mediated Life is not worth living.” 

But while wearing our tech might allow us to truly enjoy the present moment, and “help us stay human and stay more connected to our physical world,” the perspective remains purely subjective.

The only thing that could adequately communicate Burning Man to someone who has never been (aka a “virgin”) is some sort of omniscient being that can capture it in its totality.

And I am not referring to the alleged UFO sightings from last year – (I do like to preserve some of my British cynicism) – but rather other flying objects – UAVs or drones – which were observed flying over the Playa this year.

In my experience, the drone’s-eye-view provides an unparalleled 10,000 foot view on what Burning Man is, in its entirety and as true to scale as possible.

Now I am going to shut up, and let all you “virgins” take in this awesome video and judge for yourselves.

Image credit: Clay Greenbush