Using Blockchain to Unlock Unrealised Value of Drone Content, Amir Farhand CEO of Soar | Drone Below
It takes a smart person to develop an idea that is a game-changer across multiple business and government sectors. However, it takes someone like Soar CEO, Amir Farhand, to realise their idea will not only deliver increased business outcomes but can transform the lives of millions worldwide. And how Amir came to this point is a story worth telling, as his innovations are a direct outcome of his experiences.
Amir’s background as a migrant moving to Australia taught him two lessons — the value of human compassion and the importance of adaptation. These principles drove him to work with the Chinese Government to investigate the air pollution surrounding Beijing in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics, and its severe impact on public health and commerce.
Using his doctoral experience in Satellite Image Analysis and Earth Remote Sensing, Amir discovered that the issues were not solely from the urban sprawl as suspected, but were being magnified by sandstorms produced by deteriorating Mongolian grasslands. His pioneering work was instrumental in aiding the significant environmental and policy changes enacted by the Chinese Government and inspired him to start his own business to use this technology for the greater good of humanity.
His first effort, a digital map that could be downloaded to mobile devices for offline use, was taken up by a wide range of global corporations and attracted the attention of the US military in 2015. Expanding upon his existing work, the goal was to allow users to upload and modify data in real-time to provide more reliable and accurate data. The exacting requirements of the military forced Amir to research outside traditional mapping and imagery technology fields, leading to his investigation of Blockchain as a means of curating image data transparently, and with a greater historical range than traditional capture and storage techniques
Using Blockchain — a public ledger distributed across multiple online sources so that it cannot be manipulated by individual users — image ownership is verifiable, secure, and transparent. In addition, Blockchain allows the creation of a ‘super-map’ where images and information can be accessed from any time period catalogued within the blockchain, rather than just the current iteration of a given map.
Realising the potential applications of this approach went far beyond the scope of his existing focus on government and corporate clients, Amir founded Soar to provide a means of extending his solutions to work for the public good. Soar’s technology is creating a new era in areas including smart agriculture, urban planning, emergency and disaster relief, natural resource management, and industrial development.
From blue chip corporates to farmers in developing nations, the applications of Soar technology reach across all areas of human endeavour. By finding new ways to look at natural and created environments as a continuum of change rather than a snapshot, Amir is giving people a chance to positively control their future with more precision and consideration than ever before possible.
Soar’s technology works to develop disaster relief technologies in China, protect rare plants and animals in Sumatra, and help deliver blood plasma, vaccines, and other medical supplies via UAVs to remote parts of Africa — and this is just the tip of the iceberg for Amir. His passionate belief in allowing all humans to control their own destiny will ensure that Soar uplifts the lives of millions for decades to come.
We followed up with Amir Farhand at SOAR so we could pass onto you some more into this exciting and innovative new technology.
In simple terms how does Soar utitlise Blockchain?
All information relating to the specific images or other content is kept on the smart contract. This ensures all payloads such as the geoHash, content storage address, wallet address and sales transaction history are stored directly onto the blockchain. With the blockchain, you can validate and verify the origin of content and the information about it, there is no going back and changing content later to suit some narrative, the original is there, written on the blockchain.
How much coverage of the earth does Soar currently have?
Currently our Test Net at demo.soar.earth has limited content available for viewing and downloading as its only a demonstration of the capabilities we have. When we release our Main Net, we have several hundred drone operators across the globe ready to upload content to the Soar platform which will give us a huge coverage.
In addition to photos we will be introducing the capability to upload video, ortho maps and specialists content like thermal, NDVI and Lidar content as well. We also plan to add aerial and satellite imagery to the Soar platform to give end users true multi-scale mapping with images taken from space right down to super high definition images from drones – depending on what the end user needs.
Who owns image copyright?
The content creator retains their rights to the image and Soar won’t be claiming any ownership. We are considering a number of licensing options for drone content creators to chose from when they upload their content
Content must be original, how do you check?
Anyone who uploads the image will be asked to warrant their ownership of the image. All uploaded content will also be curated through a sponsorship model to ensure quality and appropriateness. If there are counterclaims to the ownership of the copyright, we have a process in place to investigate the validity of claims and can suspend images from being shown or available until these claims are investigated.
Where do you think the UAV market will be in the next 5 years?
Much bigger than it is now. We think we will see consistent growth in drone use across a range of industries and applications where drones can replace manual processes as well and providing cheaper replacement services where helicopters and aircraft might have been used in the past.
With the ever increasing regulation of the industry, especially in regards to 400ft altitude limit, how is the affecting your offering?
We don’t see it as a major roadblock, a lower altitude gives a better ground resolution on the image. Yes, it is a limitation in some instance but hopefully the regulations will keep pace with the technology that is coming such as UAV traffic management (UTM) systems. Drone manufacturers such as DJI have been very responsive to regulatory issues and when we see UTM systems coming on line, hopefully regulators across the world will see these as a way to better manage flight de-confliction than blanket regulation which will be much better for the industry.
What were some of the challenges faced when developing your product?
Soar is a concept that has evolved over quite a few years from mobile mapping. Originally based on mobile mapping technology developed in Australia, it was picked up by the US military and adapted to suit a range of their needs. Once the civilian embargo on the technology was lifted, the opportunity for Soar to extend from this was readily apparent. Like all technologies there are speed bumps but Soar is a new approach that no one has tried before in decentralised and democratised mapping..
Where do you see the UAV industry in 5 years?
The industry will still be doing what it does now but with better technology supporting it and new was of doing them. The worldwide push on autonomous control, communications, AI / machine learning, communications and airframe capabilities will help to enhance the scope of what drones can do and how they will be used. The convergence of technologies in what we see in drones today is far above what was in place 5 years ago and the next 5 years will only see an acceleration in the pace of development. Better performance, better cameras, lower costs to deploy and acceptance of the drone as a key tool in many industries and applications has cemented the drone’s current position but it also provides a solid stepping stone to the adoption of new technologies as they come on line.
Anything else you like to add?
This is an exciting time for Soar and we are looking forward to finalising our TGE fund raising and getting the the complete Soar platform deployed live.
This content was originally published here.