Product: Toy: Remote Controlled
Telepresence Airship   (+4)  [vote for, against]
Travel the world from the comfort of your home.

Ever wanted to visit a foreign city but just don't have the time/money/patience? Well now you can. Simply log onto this website, hand over your credit card details, and you will be given control of a radio control blimp in the city of your choice. The blimp is quite small, about the size of a beachball. It is fitted with a good quality camera and microphones, and connected to the base station via existing 3G wireless networks. Being a blimp rather than an aeroplane or helicopter, it is an absolute doddle to use, and if you happen to bounce into a person or wall there's no harm done.

Now you can explore the city at your leisure. Float along a busy market street in Shanghai. Criss-cross the canals of Venice between the marble palaces. Lose yourself in the backstreets of Paris, and then skim over the rooftops to make a leisurely circuit of the Eiffel Tower. And when your time is up, the onboard GPS navigation system will automatically return the blimp to its base station, to recharge its batteries ready for the next user.
-- spacemoggy, May 17 2004

Cell phone tourism http://www.halfbake...l_20phone_20tourism
No flying, but more interaction. [Worldgineer, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Telepresence blimp
Pretty much baked, since ~ 2000 I think [rmutt, Dec 12 2006]

fishbone - noise pollution, sorry. (We get the Goodyear and Fuji blimps all the time around here, something to do with baseball games.) Tie it into a silent network of streetcams instead, and I'll reach for a bun.
-- DrCurry, May 17 2004

+1 despite my self - spaceoddity
-- po, May 17 2004

Also deploy them in national parks (with added 3G infrastructure). Rent the controls to people who would like a "safari" without leaving home. Better than Jeeps tearing up the countryside.

If a user sees something interesting (that lion pride fighting the elephant bull?) a message could be posted on an instant-messenger-board so other users can switch from their own blimp to the exciting scene.
-- kbecker, May 18 2004

Noise pollution from a blimp the size of a beachball? Hah!
-- bristolz, May 18 2004

W+ll d+n+.
-- FarmerJohn, May 18 2004

may just require a few limitations on use, minimum safe altitude and no loitering around hotel windows etc.
-- engineer1, May 18 2004

+ which way to the nudist beach?
-- etherman, May 18 2004

I'd end up trying to catch one,to have a look inside for the little people.+
-- skinflaps, May 18 2004

[e] and [e]: Didn't take long for an ingenious device to be subverted to further the causes of smut-dom did it!?. And to think that the Internet was just for the transmission of research theses. Yeah Right!.

<Police Blimp> Float Along! Float Along! There's nothing to see here, folks!<PB>

+ for moggy
-- gnomethang, May 18 2004

1. Ideal for stalkers 2. "You didn't go to the DIY store darling, I saw you on your way to the bar!" 3. Big brother gone mad.

Other than these privacy-based objections I like the idea. I also suspect that most of the CCTV cameras in city centres will be internet-available soon (some already are) which kind of makes my objections reek of horse-bolted stable-door-shutting odour.
-- dobtabulous, May 18 2004

Sadly, a gust of wind or just bad steering could wedge you in the rafters, power lines or tree branches and your fun would be over. Not to mention the stealing part... but it does sound like so much fun. I want to float around like that. +
-- k_sra, May 18 2004

for added value you could have audio guides like those in a museum, with triggers spread around places of interest in the city.
-- etherman, May 18 2004

Great idea, [etherman]. "You are now looking at the Moulin Rouge, as featured in the eponymous film. Would you like to know more?"
-- spacemoggy, May 18 2004

So, the idea is that you pay NOT to go anywhere, but instead, in effect, to sit on your ass and watch tv.

Go and buy a good travel book for God's sake.

And wouldn't you have to have more than one blimp in each place to make this remotely worth while?
-- lemon tetra, May 18 2004

I would rent one for the MotoGP races ... +
-- Letsbuildafort, May 18 2004

[tetra], I'm not suggesting people should do this *instead* of travelling. By all means travel. But travel is expensive and time-consuming and so not always an option. The purpose of this is to allow you to explore a city for yourself, wandering wherever your curiosity takes you. And if you find the place interesting then maybe you'll decide to go there for real. I find that cities aren't like movies - they don't get less interesting each time you see them. On the contrary, the better you know a city, the more you like it, IMO.
-- spacemoggy, May 18 2004

Ok, you've inspired me to create a similar idea...(see link)
-- Worldgineer, May 18 2004

Sounds like fun, but I've got two probems with it.

If it became popular, the airspace could get crowded with these things.

Second problem: wind. These have to be really light to keep them small (beach ball sized), but that probably means they will be pretty low powered as well. My gut tells me that you couldn't make something that small that will be able to swim upstream against anything but the lightest of breezes.

Of course that could be dealt with somewhat by releasing the airships upwind of the city, and collecting them downwind. You'd probably need lots of collection points, and the airships would have some smarts to be able to determine which collection point they should head for.

They could also be nice for viewing museums. To avoid annoying normal patrons, the airships could operate only when the museum is otherwise closed. If they were programed to stay away from the walls, they might be able to operate with little or no human supervision.
-- scad mientist, May 18 2004

Spacemoggy, would it be better to do an exploration of a city using your method and covering as much of the place as was possible - good, bad, ugly, dull, etc etc - and put all the video info in a cd-rom that you could then navigate as you saw fit on your pc?

I'm sure there are folks out there who are waaaay cleverer than me who could find ways to manipulate the info so that you could make any turning you wanted within what has been stored and thus take any route through the city you wnat.

That's "want".

-- lemon tetra, May 18 2004

But I see much of the appeal of this idea as being an interactive tour. You can't pre-record every place in a city, and certainly can't record every time.

-- Worldgineer, May 18 2004

"So anyway, I was like all..."

-"What's that?"

"What? Oh geeze, that's probably Dad. He got this new toy..."

-"Isn't he steering that thing awefully close to the power lines?"

"I'm not going to run over there." +
-- sartep, May 18 2004

you could add a speaker/microphone system so that you could talk to the locals.
-- etherman, May 19 2004

If you could also talk through this thing... I'm visualising the nifty-looking floating robot head from the beginning of the Flash Gordon film. +
-- iivix, May 19 2004

Then you could use it to attend things you couldn't make it to in person, like parties, meetings or award ceremonies. "Brad Pitt can't be with us tonight, but he will accept the award for Best Portrayal of a Greek via his airship avatar...."
-- spacemoggy, May 19 2004

now we are getting far fetched...Pitt winning an award for Troy..jeez
-- etherman, May 19 2004

And how can an airship avatar play a Greek?
-- DrCurry, May 19 2004

probably better than Brad Pitt can
-- etherman, May 19 2004

random, halfbakery