After Peeping-Drone Reports, One Company Seeks Backers for Drone-Detection Technology

With an increasing number of drones in the sky -- and plans for a lot more yet -- more people are becoming concerned about the erosion of their privacy. That's where APlus Mobile wants to help.

by Mike Francis, McClatchy News Service / June 26, 2014

It's easy these days to buy your own personal pilotless aircraft, or drone, which is why you hear more and more news stories like the one in Seattle Sunday morning. In that case, a woman was walking around her 26th-floor apartment in a state of undress when she was startled to see a drone hovering outside her window. When she grabbed a camera, it swooped away, she told KIRO-TV.

As it turned out, the drone was piloted by a Portland company, which said it had no voyeuristic intent, but was filming a project for a client.

Nevertheless, with an increasing number of drones in the sky -- and plans for a lot more yet -- more people are becoming concerned about the erosion of their privacy. And that's where APlus Mobile wants to help.

"With drones more available and more affordable and more people noticing them, we thought, 'What a business opportunity,'" said Amy Ciesielka, founder and co-owner of the Oregon City company.

APlus Mobile has spun off a new drone-detection business called Drone Detection Countermeasures that is seeking to raise $8,000 on Kickstarter to fund real-world testing of its detection technology. At this writing, the company has received pledges of $1,425, with 20 days to go.)

Simply put, the patent-pending system relies on overlapping sensor networks that sound an alarm when an unknown object enters their airspace. Ciesielka said the system works in the lab, but it wants to use money raised on Kickstarter to push the tests into real-world situations, such as houses and offices.

She said the company has gotten inquiries from security companies and others who want to discuss incorporating its technology into their offerings.

"We had a call from Poland from someone who's the European distributor of wi-fi networks," she said Wednesday morning.

Every time a drone seems to be "peeping," crashes into a building or startles a U.S. senator, it becomes fodder for APlus Mobile's Domestic Drones Countermeasures news page. The company itself has been featured on news stories in the Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere.

So, assuming the detection system works, then what? What countermeasures might come into play?

Right now, said Ciesielka, it's not legal to jam a drone's signals or shoot it down. But as regulations governing the use of drones continues to evolve, solutions will become clear, she said.

For now, she said, it's all about detection. "We want to make sure we have a good foundation," she said.

©2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)


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